Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, March 29, 1999 Published at 11:33 GMT


Motorists escape faulty speed cameras

Speed cameras are taking blurred pictures

Hundreds of speeding motorists in Birmingham are getting away with breaking the law because speed cameras in the city do not work properly.

Birmingham City Council has admitted the picture quality of the cameras is so poor that registration plates often cannot be identified.

This means that motorists whose cars are photographed by the four cameras, which are switched between 40 sites on major roads in and around the city, cannot be prosecuted.

Bill not paid

The council said on Monday that it was refusing to pay the final £150,000 bill for the cameras until the problem was fixed.

Chris Maddox: "The picture is blurred"
The cameras were launched last July, and appeared to work effectively until October when police first found that on occasions, number plates caught on camera were too blurred to read.

Birmingham City Council's Transportation Spokesman Chris Maddox said the manufacturers, Serco Technology, based in Basingstoke, were now carrying out tests and working on improving the picture quality.

He said: "What's happening is that on occasions, when the police need to get the information for the registration of the vehicle, the picture is in fact blurred and they can't get the exact number, which has to be spot on.

[ image: Motorists are escaping prosecution]
Motorists are escaping prosecution
"We are working closely with the manufacturer to overcome this hiccup.

"It is a problem which is occurring elsewhere in the West Midlands, and perhaps in the country.

"I understand it is to do with the combination of the speed of the vehicle and the speed of the shutter lens which have to be in very good sync.


"They are working intermittently, but it is very disappointing because it has been proved that speed cameras are a major deterrent to speeding motorists."

No one from Serco Technology was available for comment.

The problem with Birmingham's speed cameras follows reports last year that thousands of motorists were getting away with speeding because police did not have the money to take them all to court.

The Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police, Steve Pilkington, said speed cameras were so effective that if his force prosecuted everybody they caught he would have to take officers off the beat.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

16 Feb 99†|†UK
Number's up for car crooks

22 Nov 98†|†UK
Speed cameras give police a headache

23 Oct 98†|†UK
Go slow - whether you like it or not

Internet Links

Birmingham City Council

Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online