The National Police Chiefs' Council has hit back at The Alliance of British Drivers for accusing UK police forces of “blackmailing” motorists to pay for speed awareness courses.
According to The Alliance of British Drivers, in 2014 UK police Forces earned £54 million from 1.3 million motorists that took road safety courses.
Had those motorists chosen to pay fines instead, the government would have received the money. This creates suspicion that the police use cameras to raise cash - whereas the official line is that their only purpose is to improve road safety.
Talking to the Daily Mail, Roger Lawson, of the Alliance of British Drivers, said: "This shows what an enormous amount of money the police are generating from this scam, which will, of course, be used to finance yet more speed cameras and more prosecutions.
He continued: “Drivers are being blackmailed into taking an education course – pay up or incur an even larger fine. Why should the police be making £54 million a year from blackmail?"
Courses 'received well'
However, when we spoke to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), they rebuffed this claim. National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said, “Driver retraining courses have been well received by motorists and contribute to reducing deaths and casualties on our roads.
She continued: "Police forces do not make money from the courses. The scheme’s financial model is designed to provide police forces with cost recovery only. The enforcement costs, including collecting evidence, serving forms and fixed penalties with the offer of a course, organising courses, monitoring attendance and finalising the evidence on successful attendance, are an average £35. Each offender attending a course returns £35 to the force initiating their offer."
Earlier in November, Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins proposed to raise money for his force by permanently switching the SMART Motorway cameras on the M1 motorway between Junction 10 to Junction 13.
However, his comments were slammed by both the public and the NPCC, with a spokeswoman telling us that: “This statement was made by one police and crime commissioner relating to their individual force. The NPCC position is that speed cameras are used for road safety, not income generation.”
Speed awareness courses are an alternative to receiving fixed penalty points and a fine. To qualify for a National Speed Awareness Course the driver’s speeding needs to be within certain limits for example in a 30mph zone, your speed needs to be between 35mph and 42mph. On motorways, the figure needs to be between 79mph and 86mph.
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