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

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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/

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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

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Zero Tolerance on Speeding Advocated

A lot of publicity has been given to the call by Anthony Bangham, Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, for zero tolerance on those who exceeed speed limits. He appeared to suggest in a speech to the Police Federation that the existing system of allowing drivers to exceed the speed limit of 10% plus 2 mph should be abandoned. In other words if you are doing 33 mph, or even less, in a 30 mph zone then you should be prosecuted. He also suggested that speed-awareness courses were being used too often as an alternative to prosecution.

Mr Bangham is the road policing lead for the National Police Chief’s Council so his words might have some weight. But even other police officers have criticised the zero tolerance approach on both practical grounds and the probability that it might undermine public attitudes to the police.

There are of course other difficulties. Would a prosecution for driving at 31 mph in a 30 zone stand up in court? Probably not if challenged because speed camera manufacturers don’t claim perfect accuracy and there are often factors that can distort the reading to some extent.

There is also the difficulty for drivers that speedometers may not be accurate, and speed limits are often now set unreasonably low for political reasons by local councillors.

Those who support Mr Bangham’s stance, and particularly Police and Crime Commisioners, should recall what happened to the former Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins. He was reported in the Daily Telegraph on the 4th November 2015 as planning to switch on speed cameras permanently on the M1 and set them at 70 mph under a “zero tolerance” approach. This was expected to generate “up to a million pounds for his cash strapped force”.  Mr Martins also spoke to the Commons Home Affairs Committee on “Reform of Police Funding” on the 3rd November 2015 where he said, after complaining about shortages in Police funding, that “I am now looking at things like turning on the HADECS cameras on the M1 and driving revenue from that, looking at sponsorship opportunities: does someone want to sponsor panda cars, our police officers’ uniforms, so any….” at which point he was interrupted. But it is clear that he thought financing the police in general from Speed Awareness Course fees was acceptable. Mr Martins failed to get re-elected in 2016, after wide publicity on his views.

But this idea still has legs. It was recently stated by the local Derbyshire “Casualty Reduction Enforcement Support Team” that on the new smart motorway section of the M1 near Sheffield (junctions 32 to 35A) that the cameras would be turned on all the time and the 70 mph limit would be enforced at all times (i.e. 24 hours per day). Many people consider the 70 mph speed limit to be ridiculously low on modern motorways, particularly when traffic is light but of course there is a strong financial incentive to follow Mr Martins approach.

Note that Anthony Bangham is also Chairman of charity the Road Safety Trust (he took over from Suzette Davenport). That organisation controls UK ROED Ltd who administer the NDORS scheme and who receive £5 from each speed awareness course attendee – see http://www.speed-awareness.org/profits.html for the labrythine financial structure of these operations.

Perhaps needless to point out that there is an obvious conflict of interest in Mr Bangham advocating zero tolerance when he is Chairman of an organisation that directly financially benefits from more people attending speed awareness courses!

Comment: Bearing in mind that the police now don’t bother to pursue minor crimes such as shoplifting or burglary due to staff shortages, is it not odd that a senior policeman adopts this stance on the “victimless” crime of speeding. Zero tolerance applied to all crime would be both enormously expensive and morally dubious. As one of my contacts said, perhaps it’s a case of “Police can NOT catch the Criminals – so they Criminalise the Catchables” with automated enforcement systems. And as we have pointed out in our AMPOW campaign, this has led to corruption of the police because of their ability to generate cash from speed-awareness courses.

Postscript: The day after the above article was written, the Sunday Times reported that they had monitored the speed of traffic outside the headquarters of the West Mercia Police. More than 100 cars per hour were breaking the speed limit. The article noted that “The speed trap revealed the cash mountain that awaits if Bangham’s policy is implemented”. It also contained comments from ABD Director Ian Taylor pointing out how impractical it was to have zero tolerance.

Roger Lawson

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

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New Record for Speeding Education Income

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has been campaigning against the abuse of police waivers and the offer of speed awareness courses. The latest figures disclosed by NDORS show that the number of courses undertaken increased to a new record of 1.26 million in 2017. In other words, last year even more drivers were blackmailed into taking a course with the threat of a fine or points on their licence. This is despite the fact there is no hard evidence that such courses have any impact on driver behaviour (a Government commissioned study into their impact seems have been delayed in reporting for unexplained reasons).

The result of these high numbers attending courses is that the police are now receiving £57 million as their proportion of the fees charged on an annual basis. They and NDORS claim that this only covers administrative costs but that is simply not true (the evidence is available on our campaign web site at www.speed-awareness.org). The police are using these fees as a slush fund to finance whatever they want, including the provision of more cameras so that they can rake in even more money from motorists.

The ABD suggests this has nothing to do with road safety but is about generating money for the police to support their shrinking budgets and is of course actively promoted by those in the burgeoning speed camera and course education industry where enormous profits are being made.

There is no evidence that this concentration on speed is having any impact on road safety – it cannot do so for reasons the ABD explained in a previous press release here: http://www.abd.org.uk/the-hidden-truth-behind-statistics-used-to-justify-speed-enforcement-priorities/

The ABD suggests that the Government should put a stop to this abuse of the criminal justice system forthwith. It is in essence a perversion of justice in the cause of police funding.

More information:

  1. The latest data on the number of courses is present on the NDORS web site here:  https://www.ndors.org.uk/scheme/trends-statistics/ (NDORS are the national scheme operators).
  2. The number of standard NSAC courses rose from 1,188,961 in 2016 to 1,195,356 in 2017.
  3. The number of NSAC 20 courses (for infringement of 20 mph speed limits), doubled from 17,139 to 34,471.
  4. The number of NMSAC courses (for infringement of motorway speed limits was 30,030. It was zero the previous year because this was a new course.
  5. More information on the background to this speed awareness industry and the profits it makes are present on the AMPOW (Against the Misuse of Police Waivers) web site here:  http://www.speed-awareness.org/
  6. For more information please contact Roger Lawson, Campaign Director, on 020-8295-0378.

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

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