Auto cameras driving millions of penalty notices

Twelve million penalty notices are given to motorists each year
Twelve million penalty notices are given to motorists each year
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Twelve million penalty notices are given to motorists each year, according to a new report.

This is the equivalent of one every 2.5 seconds and means up to 30% of Britain's drivers receive a penalty annually, a study for motoring research charity the RAC Foundation found.

It warned that the increasing use of cameras to catch offenders can lead to mistrust among motorists as there is no use of discretion or common sense.

Analysis of official data by Dr Adam Snow, a lecturer in criminology at Liverpool Hope University, revealed that each year British drivers are given:

:: Eight million local authority parking penalties;

:: 2.5 million local authority bus lane and box junction penalties;

:: Half a million late licensing and insurance penalties;

:: One million speeding and red-light penalties.

This does not include the five million parking penalties issued to drivers on private land or the 1.2 million drivers attending speed awareness courses.

In the report, Dr Snow found that reductions in police budgets have been "perhaps the main driver" for the reliance on cameras.

Between 2010 and 2014 the number of dedicated police traffic officers fell by 24%.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: "To maintain its legitimacy, automatic enforcement must be viewed by the public as proportionate.

"While wrongdoing should be punished and not excused, a decline in front-line policing risks an imbalanced approach to enforcement.

"Millions of motorists are being caught by camera, often for arguably minor misdemeanours, whilst more serious and harmful behaviour goes undetected."

In relation to civil enforcement of bus lane and parking infringements, he claimed authorities should "constantly be asking themselves whether the number of notices issued suggest a different method is needed".

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association's transport spokesman, said: "Effective parking control is one of the most frequent and important demands of local residents from their councils.

"Income raised through on-street parking charges and fines is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling the £12 billion roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces."