Yet More Profiteering by the Police

The Daily Telegraph published an article this morning explaining how the police are going to extract an extra £12 million a year from motorists. This will be enabled by the fee the police get as a kick-back from speed awareness course fees rising from £35 to £45.

That fee is supposed to cover only administration costs, but in reality most police forces were already making substantial profits from these arrangements and using them to finance more cameras and lots of other things (even expensive motorcycles in one case). More evidence on this is present on this web page: http://www.speed-awareness.org/profits.html

In effect the police are using these fees as a slush fund to finance their operations and employ more staff while ignoring the general illegality of these arrangements.

Now there was a Bill going before Parliament before the General Election that included a section that was intended to legalise these arrangements however dubious they are in reality. It was intended to ensure the police could not profit from speed awareness and other course offers. But the replacement Bill, the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, has just been published and it contains no replacement sections.

Meanwhile the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Department for Transport continue to turn a blind eye to our complaints about the moral duplicity and illegality of these arrangements (and yes we have taken a QC’s advice on that).

Speed cameras and the offer of speed awareness courses have nothing to do with road safety and are all about making money. A vicious circle of more cameras, that generate more money, that finance more cameras has created the financial incentives that are extracting enormous amounts of money from motorists with no evidence of any road safety benefit.

There are now over 1 million drivers every year being offered speed awareness courses, and with fees of £80 and more which will now increase, that could be £100 million being extracted from motorists without any legal basis. See www.speed-awareness.org for all the evidence.

If you want to stop these nefarious practices, please write to your Member of Parliament. Please do so now and ask them to contact Minister, Nick Hurd, on this subject (make sure you include your name and full postal address even in an email to ensure your M.P. will respond).

How do you write to your M.P.? You can obtain their contact details from this web page: http://parliament.uk  (enter your post code at the bottom left). This will take you to a page giving their name, postal address and email address – an email will do fine.

DO WRITE TO YOUR M.P. NOW SO THAT THIS ISSUE REMAINS IN THEIR MINDS

Also please write similarly to any Member of the House of Lords that you know.

Roger Lawson

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Evidence of Course Profits from LTT

Local Transport Today, the magazine read by local authority traffic engineers, have published an interesting article on the activities of Hertfordshire County Council in their provision of Speed Awareness Courses.

The article notes that there are 24 accredited course operators. That includes three private sector organisations, six police forces and 15 local authorities. All of them can generate very substantial profits above the costs incurred in providing the courses. For example, LTT report that Hertfordshire County Council generated a surplus of £947,000 in 2015/2016 by delivering 1,891 courses attended by 41,641 drivers giving income of £3.7 million (source: Local Transport Today). Hertfordshire are apparently looking to expand their “business activities” in this area according to Chief Executive John Wood. One can see why when it is such a money spinner.

The police and local authorities may well spend some the surplus from running courses on road safety measures (there is no legal obligation to do so) but private sector operators can simply lose the profits in high salaries and directors fees. For example in October 2015 the Sun Newspaper ran an article that suggested the directors of AA Drivetech received £5.5 million in directors fees in 2013.

One disturbing aspect is that although the police do not set speed limits or determine the location of speed cameras, they do advise on those matters. But local authorities do directly control speed limits so they may well have a financial incentive to lower limits and introduce more cameras so as to increase the demand for speed awareness courses and the hence the profits they receive.

Roger Lawson