Speed Cameras On The M18 Motorway

Reference Number: 

20110004
Dates

Request Date: 

Monday, 31 January, 2011

Response Date: 

Monday, 14 February, 2011

Request Details: 

Motorway roadworks M18 jct 4-2 southbound on 09-01-2011 at 1408.

1. All technical evidence to support allegation

2. All photographic evidence to support charge (provided)

3. Please provide identification of actual equipment used to record the alleged offence

4. Maintenance records for the identified equipment.

5. Identify exact location of equipment used to record alleged offence

6. Please show that the vehicle XXXX XXX was isolated in field of view and not 'shadowed by any other vehicle.

7. Please provide documentation that the site used was totally suitable for this type of equipment and free from contamination.

Exemptions Applied: 

Section 31 – Law Enforcement

SYP Response: 

  1. All technical evidence to support allegation

If technical evidence was required, we would request that Redspeed attend court to explain the workings of the camera system.

We provide evidence produced by the Home Office Type Approved equipment. This approval gives the public and the courts reassurance measurements from a particular device can be relied upon as evidence.

  1. All photographic evidence to support charge

This has been provided to you.

  1. Please provide identification of actual equipment used to record the alleged offence

RedFusion average speed system, information on this equipment can be found on their website: http://www.redspeed-int.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16&Itemid=41

  1. Maintenance records for the identified equipment.

No information held.

  1. Identify exact location of equipment used to record alleged offence

Your request has now been considered and I am not obliged to supply the information you have requested. Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires South Yorkshire Police, when refusing to provide such information (because the information is exempt) to provide you the applicant with a notice which:  

(a)        states that fact;

(b)        specifies the exemption in question and;

(c)        states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

This information is exempt by virtue of the following sections: -

Section 31 – Law Enforcement

(1) Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to prejudice -

(a) the prevention or detection of crime

The following harm has been identified in the disclosure of this information:

 

Harm and Public Interest Considerations

 

South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership are happy to release calibration certificates for every safety camera other than for the Time Over Distance, Average Speed Camera System or ‘SPECS’ system. South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership has to consider the risk of release of the SPECS system calibration certificate as the site itself is not comparable to a ‘normal’ fixed speed camera site. Unlike a normal site, the SPECS system has a number of ‘gantries’ capable of housing a speed camera, whereas on a normal fixed speed camera site, there is only one housing which only covers a very short distance.

The SPECS system operates in such a way that not all housings contain a camera at any one time. The strategy is based on the perception that a driver’s speed could potentially be measured at any point along the system, thus slowing drivers down for the whole stretch. The calibration certificate indicates which camera housings are in use and therefore which sets of cameras along the stretch are active. Releasing this information would negate the strategy and only slow drivers down at the points identified as active along the system. South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership would not be able to carry out its functions as a speed enforcement body on this stretch of road as effectively, if the locations of the active cameras were released.

It is the desire of South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership that a driver should assume that each gantry along the average speed camera route supports an active camera. This is acknowledged by the Information Commissioner: ‘It is widely known that the majority of fixed speed cameras in any given policing area are not activated for enforcement at all times. It is the desire of the police that a driver should assume that the speed camera they are approaching is active. The Commissioner is persuaded that drivers are more inclined to stick rigidly to the law in an enforcement zone if they believe that a camera is active or likely to be active.’ (ICO Decision Notice: Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary, 11 December 2006).

Releasing the calibration certificate for the ‘SPECS’ Average Speed Camera system, M18, which indicates which sets of cameras are in use at any one time, would compromise South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership’s law enforcement strategy and arm drivers with information that would allow them to exceed the speed limitations without fear of being captured by a speed camera.

South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership agree that transparency about their enforcement activities would inform the debate and acknowledges the importance of this debate in building public confidence in enforcement of road traffic laws. However, the Partnership also needs to strike a balance between being accountable to the public and releasing information that may compromise their overall law enforcement strategy. If drivers are able to determine which camera locations are not active, the functions of the Partnership would be compromised as there would be no speeding deterrent.

 

Considerations Favouring Disclosure

The release of this calibration certificate would show that the cameras in use on the M18 Motorway are fully functional, tested speed enforcement equipment.

Release of information showing which cameras are in use would assist in public awareness and debate. The local community may be more informed and have ideas about the best positions of the active cameras.

 

Considerations Favouring Non-Disclosure

Release of information identifying active cameras along the Average Speed Camera system would negate the strategy of this type of system and would not slow drivers down.

The site may become ineffective as an average speed enforcement site due to the release of the information. This would impact upon other areas of speed enforcement within South Yorkshire should resources have to be moved to compensate.

Where South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership cannot enforce speed in an area, this will impact upon the Road Traffic Policing Unit of South Yorkshire Police who would have to take other enforcement measures in order to keep drivers to the speed limitations. In which case, the functions of the Partnership would become redundant.

 

Balancing Test

When balancing the public interest test we have to consider whether the information should be released into the public domain. Arguments need to be weighed against each other.  The most persuasive reason for disclosure is to show the public that the equipment used is fully tested, especially as the Partnership publish all other certificates on its website. However, where information would compromise the functions of the Partnership to enforce the speed limit, it is not in the public interest to release the information.

On balance, and from the harm evidenced above, the information should be protected and exemption applied.

 

  1. Please show that the vehicle XXXX XXX was isolated in field of view and not 'shadowed by any other vehicle.

Please see photograph provided.

 

  1. Please provide documentation that the site used was totally suitable for this type of equipment and free from contamination.

Please see attached document from the Highways Agency.

Attachments: