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Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Speed cameras 'catch innocent drivers'
Speed camera warning sign
Revenue from speeding fines is increasing
Thousands of drivers are wrongly fined for speeding because of errors with speed camera evidence, according to a motoring organisation.

The Automobile Association (AA) says that both computer and human error in processing data from speed cameras has prompted a recent increase in the number of drivers wrongfully accused of speeding.

Among the cases it says it has uncovered is that of a vicar who was "caught speeding" in London while delivering a sermon in Wales.

In another example, it says a Scottish dairyman received numerous tickets for "speeding" in his milk float.

We certainly want some sort of change in the system, as it is not working as it should at the moment.

Paul Watters,
According to the organisation, many drivers have paid fines for offences they did not commit, because they wrongly believed they were at fault.

The AA is now demanding an investigation into the speed camera system.

Paul Watters, head of road and transport policy at the AA, said: "We certainly want some sort of change in the system, as it is not working as it should at the moment.

"For the cases that we know about, there are a lot more that we don't know about, and we do not want the system to fall into disrepute."

About one million fixed penalty speeding notices, containing a notice to prosecute or a demand for 60, are issued each year, the AA says.

Mr Watters did concede that out of the total number of notices issued, only a small percentage were issued in error.

Some of the mistakes could also be attributed to incorrect information stored by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) because people had registered their details incorrectly or failed to update them.

'Smaller scale'

Peter Shipley, spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: "No system is foolproof and can't be entirely immune from human error, but we do not believe there has been the recent increase in the problem, of the magnitude described by the AA.

"We don't know where they're getting their figure of thousands from.

"We do recognise there have been problems but on a much lesser scale.

"If the AA has something to tell us and that can be backed up then we will look into it."

Letter of apology

Northamptonshire police said that out of the 84,000 speeding tickets given out in the county over the last year, only a small number at been wrongly issued.

A spokeswoman said: "We use a combination of automated and manual processing.

"Occasionally there may be a human error while inputting details, but there are a number of checks in place to reduce these as far as possible.

"We do of course acknowledge any mistakes and will send out a letter of apology."

New rules due to be implemented this summer, will see thousands more speed cameras on the roads.

Police forces will be allowed to keep the money generated from fines, instead of funds going to the Treasury.

Police forces expect to receive 200m a year from the initiative.

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28 Jul 00 | Scotland
Cash diversion cuts speed
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