UK Liberty

Is the Government risking lives to save face?

Posted in accountability, freedom of speech, law and order by ukliberty on November 12, 2007

The Telegraph:

…the senior policeman in charge of speed cameras in England and Wales, Richard Brunstrom, chief constable for North Wales, had just sent a remarkable confidential letter to all police forces and local authorities, revealing just how unnerved those running the speed-camera campaign had become at charges that their policy had failed in its aim of reducing accidents.

Signing himself as “Chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers Roads Policing Business Area”, Brunstrom instructed all responsible for operating speed cameras – which in 2003 were raising more than £120 million from two million motorists – that they must on no account respond to any further requests for factual information from Safe Speed’s Paul Smith.

On what grounds?

Smith’s offence, according to Brunstrom, was that his “sole intent seems to be to discredit Government policy”.

God forbid!

He had not only “inundated” the DfT and police forces with requests for information, but then published their replies on the internet.

Outrageous.

Brunstrom was also concerned that dozens of serving police officers had contacted Smith to express their personal concern at the way reliance on cameras has become a substitute for a road safety policy which, until 10 years previously, had been acclaimed as the most successful in the world.

In 2004 Smith was able to reveal even worse news for the government. For some time he had argued that, far from reducing the risk of accidents, speed cameras actually increased it, by distracting drivers and causing them to act unpredictably. This was now confirmed by another report from the TRL, Report 595, commissioned by the Highways Agency, looking into the effect of cameras on motorways.

The TRL had found that, where fixed cameras were installed at road works, the risk of accidents giving rise to injury was increased by 55 per cent. Where fixed cameras were installed on open motorways the risk was increased by 31 per cent. In general, fatal and serious crashes were 32 per cent more likely where cameras were being operated. But conventional police patrols reduced the risk of crashes by 27 per cent at road works, and 10 per cent elsewhere.

The report bore out precisely the case Smith had been making. But the DfT had ruled that it was not to be published. If a copy had not been passed to Smith, to be reported on the Safe Speed website, it might never have seen the light of day.  …

Safe Speed’s website

Page on TRL 595.

As ever, don’t take anyone’s word for it.  Try to check it out for yourself.  What are facts and figures?  What are the motivations of the people and organisations involved?

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