What may well be one of the most profitable speed cameras in the country is actually causing accidents and injuries and yet Essex Police are refusing to remove it.
The Camera was installed in May 2001 on a busy stretch of the M11 between junctions 4 and 5 of the southbound carriageway. The speed limit reduces from 70mph to 50mph without prior warning, the carriageway narrows from 3 to 2 lanes and just beyond is a speed camera.
In February 2008 we witnessed the aftermath of a 3 car pile up immediately in front of the camera. It was obvious that it was the camera that caused the accident because cars were having to reduce speed and merge and then of course some motorists slamm on their brakes when they pass the camera. So we asked the department of transport for the accident and casualty statistics. The camera was installed in May 2001. In the first 5 months of 2001 (pre speed camera) there was one slight accident with 1 slight casualty.
In the second half of 2001 (post camera installation) there was one serious accident, 4 slight accidents, 1 serious casualty and 10 slight casualties. Now you don’t need a degree in traffic management to see that the camera should have been removed immediately.
In the 5½ years prior to its installation there were a total of 13 accidents and 14 casualties.
In the 5½ years post installation there were 18 accidents and 26 casualties!
At the same time we suspect millions of pounds has been made. How much we don’t know because after 3 requests to Essex police and a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office, they are refusing to disclose the number of fixed penalty notices issued due to “operational reasons”.
So, recently we wrote to Essex police and our local MP. We pointed out that this camera is causing accidents and injuries and provided them with the statistics which we obtained from the Department of Transport. We have now received back replies to our letters.
Essex police say
On the question of the statistics provided to you by the HA, on their own they are of little use, you may recall I mentioned in my previous letter it is also important to understand other factors around any information, for example the causation factors associated wit any incidents that has not been shown, so it is difficult to fully analyse the information and make any firm conclusions.
It would seem that the police can’t see that the causation factor is actually the camera! They go on to say that “finally I would add that the partnership reviews all its enforced sites annually and is satisfied that this and other sites should remain”. We have asked for a copy of the review but won’t hold our breath.
Jim Fitzpatrick from the Department for transport says
In the case of the M11, the casualty data does not show a pattern of incidents which would be consistent with the camera itself being a factor.
We think It is worrying how someone like this can get to such a high position in our government.
The undisputed fact is that no lives have been saved by this camera and many more accidents have occurred and people been injured as a result of it. The partnership that runs the camera is ironically called “The Essex casualty reduction partnership!!!”
How do they all get away with it?
Luckily the Sun have exposed what is going on. View the article here (external link).
September 2009 UPDATE:
Although we were able to highlight and publicise the number of accidents after a freedom of information act request Essex Police would not tell us how much they were making from this speed camera which we have proved is causing accidents.
The cited operational and health and safety reasons for not telling us. We think they just don’t want the public to know how much they are making. So we appealed to the information commissioners office and after many months he has lambasted Essex police for the way they handled our request and given them 45 days to supply the information to us. If they don’t they could be found in contempt of court! Watch this space!”
November 2009 UPDATE:
We have now received information on the number of penalty charge notices issued.
The camera was installed in may 01 but the police don’t have any information on the number of tickets issued until oct 02.
The number of tickets issued was as follows:
8 Oct 02-31 dec 02/3007 (could equate to over 12,000 in the year)!
1/1/08 – 1/5/08 : 562
May 08 – May 09: 6445
In the first half of 2001 before the camera was installed there was one accident and one casualty at the site.
In the second half (from May) 2001 after the camera was installed there were 5 accidents and 11 casualties one of which was serious.
We say why wasn’t the camera removed at that time. We are not against the idea of speed cameras at certain locations but where they have been proved to be causing accidents or not reducing accidents they should surely be removed. Otherwise the public may well think that they are there to make money. But Essex police say they will not remove the camera and the government seems unwilling to get involved.
A retired chartered engineer, with a PhD in engineering has researched mobile speed cameras. His research and report is most interesting.