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REVEALED: Speed camera axe sparks massive drop in prosecutions

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Fixed devices were turned off in costcutting move

The number of drivers prosecuted for jumping red lights across the West Midlands has plunged by 80 per cent in just five years.

Only 658 motorists were taken to court for failing to stop at a red light in the 2015/16 financial year – a huge drop on the 3,907 drivers accused of the offence in 2010/11.

Road safety campaigners blamed the massive drop on the decision to turn off all 305 fixed traffic light and speed cameras in March 2013.

And the figures, revealed by West Midlands Police , sparked calls for the devices – mothballed in a costcutting move – to be turned back on.

Nationally, the number of convictions for failing to stop at a red light increased by more than 5,000 to over 67,000 last year.

Road safety charity Brake said the cameras should now be turned back on to save lives.

Spokesman Greg Marah said: “This worrying drop in convictions indicates the policy to switch off traffic light and fixed speed cameras has failed.

“Speed cameras are proven to reduce casualties on our roads.

“The cost of operating them is massively outweighed by the cost to society of the deaths and injuries they prevent.

“We would encourage all councils in the West Midlands to turn these cameras back on for the safety of all road users.”

Analysis of prosecution numbers from 2010/11 onwards shows a steep decline in 2013/14 – after the cameras were turned off.

They fell from a pre-switch-off total of 3,332 in 2012/13 to just 863 the following year.

he number dropped again, to just 637, in 2014/15 before rising slightly to 658 in 2015/16.

When the cameras were turned off, the West Midlands Road Safety Partnership Board, made up of councils and other emergency services, said police believed mobile speed cameras would catch more drivers.

But the Mail revealed in 2014 that speeding convictions halved when the cameras were sidelined.

In August, eight average speed digital cameras were switched back on as part of a partnership between Birmingham City Council, Solihull Council and West Midlands Police.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention for Accidents (RoPSA), said: “Jumping red lights is very dangerous and could easily lead to a catastrophic collision.

“Red light cameras are an effective way of deterring red light running and catching offenders.”

West Midlands Police said it did not receive a penny from any fines levied, which are sent directly to the Treasury.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “One of the first acts of the coalition government removed the funding from local councils for safety cameras, putting lives at risk.

“I have made road safety a key part of my Police and Crime Plan and it was the biggest issue that the public raised during my consultation.

“Following public demand there have recently been average speed cameras introduced in Birmingham and Solihull.

“Where councils come forward with other plans for cameras, I will support them and help to provide enforcement, based on the aim of reducing the number of people killed and injured on our roads.”

 
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