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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 October 2006, 14:59 GMT
Extra traffic police needed - MPs
Speed camera
The group of MPs is likely to call for more cameras and more officers
Britain's roads need more speed cameras and more police to reduce the number of accidents, a report by MPs has warned.

The Transport Select Committee said traffic police had been marginalised, adding: "Technology must support road police officers, not replace them."

The MPs criticised rules that allow cameras to be sited only where there is a record of deaths or serious injuries.

But the transport department said those rules were changed in April and local authorities now have more flexibility.

The changes meant local officials could now look at all accidents over a longer period when deciding where speed cameras should be placed, a department spokeswoman said.

'Well-accepted'

The report, Roads Policing and Technology - Getting the Balance Right, called for new technologies to be approved more rapidly.

It highlighted the "alcolocks" system - whereby a car is immobilised if the driver has had alcohol - as one which should be introduced as soon as possible.

We are quite clear that technology alone cannot meet all the aims of the road policing strategy
Government statement

Committee chairman Gwyneth Dunwoody said it was clear that speed cameras were "effective, good value for money, and well-accepted by the public".

But Ms Dunwoody, a Labour MP, said senior officers often cut traffic policing to help balance their budgets.

"You can't assume that a camera is going to replace somebody who can assess when a driver has been drinking or has been taking drugs that make them unable to drive," she said.

Careful consideration

In a joint statement, the Home Office and Department for Transport said the number of dedicated traffic officers had actually increased since 2002.

"Technology enhances police officers' work, allowing them to do their job better and more quickly," the statement said.

"But we are quite clear that technology alone cannot meet all the aims of the road policing strategy and we would not expect it to."

The departments said they would consider the committee's recommendations carefully.

The RAC Foundation said it was concerned about falling numbers of traffic police.

"A camera can clock someone a few miles over the limit but does nothing to deter the drink, drugged or other forms of dangerous driving," said the foundation's Edmund King.

Andrew Howard, of the AA Motoring Trust, also called for "more conspicuous police activity" to deter drivers.

He added that speed cameras were achieving their road safety goals, but limiting their deployment to proven accident sites would help to make them more acceptable to motorists.




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