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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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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More Evidence of Where the Money Goes

Where does the money go, paid by speed awareness course attendees? It goes on speed cameras (and operating them) and on police motorcycles!

As readers might be aware, NDORS and the Government have claimed that the police only receive the administration costs associated with the provision of speed awareness courses (allegedly a fixed fee of £35 now). It is likely that this fee more than covers their actual costs, but apart from that there are other ways they receive money from the course providers. Some evidence of this is already on our web site, but more evidence came to our attention recently.

In 2013 Essex County Council responded to a Freedom of Information Act request on the revenue generated from the provision of such courses. The full detail can be read in this link but a summary is given below: http://webapps1.essexcc.gov.uk/FOIdotNET/view_doc.aspx?DocID=1234

Apart from the fact that the numbers attending such courses grew from 4,483 persons in 2010/2011 to 22,778 persons in 2012/2013, it spells out where the surplus that arises over their costs is spent. As it says: “During 2012/13, the ECRB allocated two sums of money from the financial surplus that remained at the end of 2011/12 (the latest year for which audited accounts are available). Both sums were awarded to Essex Police; one for approximately £20,000 for the purchase of two hand-held speed detection devices and the other for approximately £70,000 for the purchase of two motorcycles. The first award is primarily aimed at encouraging compliance with speed limits and the second is primarily aimed at reducing accidents involving motorcyclists.”

In addition, it says “Essex Police are able to recover their costs for the detection and processing of offences captured which includes the highway authorities recovering the majority of the costs incurred maintaining the permanent safety camera installations within their area”.

So in summary, this directly contradicts what NDORS and the Government have been saying. And it is this money that is driving the increase in speed cameras and their use by the police.

Roger Lawson

Comments by NDORS on AMPOW Campaign

 

Road Safety GB have published an article on our campaign which you can read here: http://www.roadsafetygb.org.uk/news/5199.html . It quotes an NDORS spokesman (who it seems prefers to remain anonymous) who grossly misleads readers about the legality of the current arrangements, plus makes some other false claims. This was the comment I posted in response:

NDORS claim “that the provision of ….educational courses has been deemed lawful”. But all they have done is obtained a QC’s opinion. That does not make it lawful, and we have also taken a QC’s opinion and ours gave a contrary opinion. (Note: QC’s opinions are not law and their views may be swayed by the questions their clients pose and the answers they are looking for. Nobody argues that the police can waive prosecutions where appropriate but turning it into a money making opportunity is another matter altogether).

NDORS also repeat the false allegation that all the police recover is their administration costs which is definitely wrong. They generate a surplus which finances more cameras, more staff to operate them, etc, etc. It’s a money making scheme in essence.

Our manifesto advocates the offer of training course as an alternative to other penalties after conviction, not for the police to tout waivers to collect money. Nowhere do we support that the police should profit from waiving prosecution.

Roger Lawson