Huge Increase in Speed Enforcement

Speed Camera 4The magazine Local Transport Today have run a story headlined “Met Police prepares for huge increase in speed enforcement”. They report that London police are planning a huge programme of speed limit enforcement with the aim of catching a million offenders a year. That’s up from 160,000 per annum at present.

That will be achieved by a large increase in speed camera activities including more mobile speed enforcement equipment. This is likely to mean aggressive enforcement of the 20 mph speed limits being brought in on many London roads.

The above information was disclosed at a meeting of London Councils, the representative body for London boroughs. That organisation is also looking at “decriminalisation” of speeding offences, which would effectively make it possible for local boroughs to enforce speed limits in the same way they do for parking offences at present.

What’s the real motivation behind these moves? It’s almost certainly about filling the coffers of the police by the offer of speed awareness courses, and also enabling local councils to fill their budget holes by also taking a cut of fees paid. Both organisations are under financial pressure and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is unwilling to help with the police budgets but would rather spend money on other things.

There is no evidence that lowering speed limits or more aggressive enforcement has any significant impact on road safety statistics. But politicians like gestures and many are only too pleased to kowtow to the anti-car fanatics. When it can be combined with excuses for revenue raising, it’s difficult to stop.

Just make sure you oppose it though.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Speed Awareness Courses in Scotland

Scotland does not operate the cash generating system of speed awareness courses that functions in England and Wales. Despite our previous report last August that Police in Scotland had abandoned proposals to implement them, it now seems that they are likely to be introduced.

James Wolfe, the Lord Advocate and head of the legal service in Scotland, is now proposing that they be introduced subject to the consent of a working group and the specific proposals on how they should operate.

It is most unfortunate that the representations the ABD made on this subject have been ignored. As we pointed out to the Lord Advocate in January 2018 there is no evidence that speed awareness courses have any significant impact on road casualties. A Department for Transport (DfT) report on the subject subsequently said exactly that – see https://speedawareness.wordpress.com/2018/05/14/no-benefit-from-speed-awareness-courses/ . Speed awareness courses and the associated “waivers of prosecution” are not just a perversion of justice, but are primarily a way for the police to extract bribes from motorists to fund their operations.

As the Scottish legal system is separate to the UK one, it is possible that this decision could be challenged by a judicial review in Scotland. Otherwise residents of Scotland could write to the Lord Advocate at this address: James Wolffe QC, The Lord Advocate, Judicial Office for Scotland, Parliament House, Edinburgh, EH1 1RQ

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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Profits from Speed Awareness Courses Still Growing

Both the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph have reported on the latest rise in the number of people attending speed awareness courses – up to 1.45 million in 2018 as declared by NDORS. That’s counting all the different variants of “driver education” courses now offered. That means the police will have received as much as £65 million as the “kick-back” from the fees paid by attendees – they now receive £45 for each attendee.

A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs Council is quoted in the Mail as saying that “police forces do not make money from the courses; they only receive processing costs”. But that is simply not true.

The evidence we have provided on this web site: https://www.speed-awareness.org demonstrates that they use this income to expand speed camera operations, to pay for staff and to subsidise other budgets.

Course operators also make very substantial profits and most of them are commercial operations.

In total more than 10 million people have now attended such a course despite the fact that a report published by the Department for Transport (DfT) showed there was no “statistically significant effect on the number or severity of injury collisions” from attendance at a speed awareness course – in other words, NO BENEFIT WHATSOEVER! Is it not remarkable that the legalisation of paying bribes to the police to avoid prosecution was ever permitted in the first place, and the Government continues to do nothing about this perversion of justice?

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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How TTC Turned Speed Awareness Courses into a Big Business

An interesting article in the Shropshire Star has explained how local company TTC Group, based in Telford, have turned the provision of speed awareness courses into a big business. To quote from the article:

“Jim Kirkwood, TTC CEO, said: Since the business was formed in 1993, we have helped more than 2.7 million people across the UK. That is some achievement and a long way from when Graham and Jenny Wynn came up with the idea of reducing casualties on the road and re-offending through better driver education and training.

Back then there was only the two of them and a small team in their Shropshire office, but that didn’t stop them from creating a pilot scheme which cut re-offending by 50 per cent. This proved they had something that worked and prompted the Government to push through new legislation encouraging education as an alternative to punishment.

TTC has built on this pioneering work and today is one of the largest National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) training providers, offering seven police referral courses.

The award-winning company employs 130 people at its headquarters on Hadley Park and a 500-strong panel of approved trainers that deliver coaching and NDORS courses on behalf of 14 police forces across the UK.”

Apart from the fact that Mr Kirkwood was incorrect in stating that legislation was put in place to cover education course – there is no such legislation covering the use of police waivers and the offer of education courses – and that reoffending rates are not reduced to anywhere near the extent claimed with no reduction in casualties (see the recent Ipsos-MORI report), you can see how the NDORS scheme has enabled the building of a big private-sector company which generates enormous profits for its owners. Indeed this business is so profitable that it was acquired by Palatine Private Equity recently and is now called Project Track Topco Ltd.

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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Police Bid to Obtain More Money from Education Courses

Alison Hernandez, who leads on road safety for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, is advocating that the cost of speeding fines and driver education courses is hiked. This could mean the cost of an average NDORS course might rise to £130. By implication this suggests that she wants the fees received by the police from NDORS courses to rise from £45 to £95 if all the extra money was given to them.

So it’s almost “double your money”. She argues that would enable the police to spend more on road safety, but the analysis by the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) of where all the money went from such courses in 2017 shows that only a trivial proportion (1.3%) is actually spent on road safety. All the rest is consumed in the safety camera industry including paying for more cameras, more staff to operate them, more administration and more trainers.

But do education courses actually reduce casualties? In other words, is there any road safety benefit by sending people on an education course? Not according to the results of a very detailed Government sponsored study published this year on the subject.

Ms Hernandez also wants the money from speeding fines that currently go to the Treasury to be diverted to the police. That was previously changed after the police turned it into a money generating operation – for example by catching motorists where they were easy to catch rather than where there was a dangerous road location. The Government quite rightly put a stop to that and now funds road safety programmes themselves to ensure the money is allocated wisely. But it was the catalyst for the creation of speed camera industry which is still in operation since the police invented diversionary courses using “waivers of prosecution”. The ABD argues this is not just unauthorised, it is simply illegal. See the ABD’s AMPOW campaign against them for more information.

Ms Hernandez is surely just using “road safety” as a poor excuse to raise more money for her police force. She is Police Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall which should be noted by those who elected her.

Roger Lawson

Further information:

Where All the Money from Speed Awareness Courses Went in 2017: https://speedawareness.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/where-all-the-money-from-speed-awareness-courses-went-in-2017/

No Benefit from Speed Awareness Courses: https://speedawareness.wordpress.com/2018/05/14/no-benefit-from-speed-awareness-courses/

AMPOW Campaign (Against Misuse of Police Waivers) Web Site: https://www.speed-awareness.org/

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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Where All the Money from Speed Awareness Courses Went in 2017

UK ROED, the company which operates the NDORS driver education scheme, recently published its accounts to the end of March 2018. UK ROED Ltd is owned by (i.e. is a subsidiary of) a charity named The Road Safety Trust, another company which published accounts to the same date. What do these accounts tell us about the massive slush fund that is being operated in the name of road safety?

UK ROED Ltd had income of £61.6 million from fees received, from which £55.9 million was paid to the police. That’s up from £47.5 million paid to the police in the previous year. Those fees are allegedly to cover the police’s administration costs but are in reality used to fund expansion of speed camera operations and other unrelated costs that have nothing much to do with road safety – see information on our web site here about that: https://www.speed-awareness.org/

Of the £61.6 million in income, only £1.8 million was paid over to The Road Safety Trust – down from £3.1 million in the previous year). That charity spent £1.3 million on charitable activities which mainly comprise funding of research activities. These are no doubt worthy activities. But the surplus of £485,000 was retained. This resulted in the assets it held increasing to £4.4 million. In other words, this is not only a charity that does not spend all of its income, but it is also building up a very substantial financial asset figure which is not normally perceived as acceptable for charities.

UK ROED Ltd had £3.8 million of “administrative expenses” but only £764,000 was spent on staff salaries and pensions. It is not obvious where the difference was spent.

In addition to the £61.6 million that passes through the UK ROED accounts there are the fees received by the speed awareness course operators. One of the largest course operators is TTC 2000 Ltd whose accounts to December 2017 showed revenue of £26.8 million and profits of £775,000. They run about a third of all speed awareness courses. Based on that information and the fact that average course fees are about £100, it’s reasonable to estimate that total fees paid by the 1.2 million drivers attending courses each year is at least £100 million.

Therefore in total the speed-awareness course system is extracting £100 million from the pockets of road users with no immediate road safety benefit whatsoever and with a trivial proportion (about 1.3%) actually being spent on road safety research or programmes. All the rest goes on expenses including the employment of many ex-police officers.

Bearing in mind that a recently published report from the Department for Transport (DfT) showed there was no “statistically significant effect on the number or severity of injury collisions” from attendance at a speed awareness course (in other words, NO BENEFIT WHATSOEVER), it is very odd that the Government permits the operations of these companies to continue. It would seem they are self-perpetuating and self-governed organisations which are outside of Government control and which consume £100 million of pounds every year of road users’ cash while they have no direct impact on road casualties.

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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Police in Scotland Abandon Plans for Speed Awareness Courses

According to a report in the Herald newspaper, police in Scotland have shelved plans to introduce speed awareness courses in the country like they operate in England. The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has of course campaigned against the misuse of police waivers and the perversion of justice involved in the police extracting cash by inducing the payment of a bribe to waive prosecution. See our AMPOW campaign here: https://www.speed-awareness.org/ . Only recently a Government commissioned study showed there was no benefit whatsoever in terms of casualty reduction from sending millions of people on speed awareness courses every year.

The Scottish Police Authority have suggested that they have “deprioritised” the introduction of such courses on financial grounds as they would require substantial investment in new IT facilities. But could it be that they have realised how legally dubious the operation of the system in England really is? The ABD has made representations on this subject to the senior legal authorities in Scotland who would have to give permission for the operation of such a scheme. Perhaps this is a case where the police in Scotland have simply been persuaded that it is a step too far?

All we need now is for the UK Government in Westminster to recognise the same reality.

See the Herald story here for more information: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16600735.police-put-brakes-on-plans-to-drop-fines-for-speed-awareness-courses/?action=success#comments-feedback-anchor

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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