- Category: News - Queensland
- Published on Friday, 18 November 2011 14:09
- Written by Courier Mail
POLICE have been warned to find new places to catch leadfoots if their mobile speed cameras are not flashing more than a couple of times an hour.
An email, obtained by The Courier-Mail, was sent to all traffic police in Brisbane's Metropolitan North Region ordering officers to change camera locations if the site was "not returning a reasonable rate of detection". Penned by Regional Traffic Co-ordinator Jac Feather, the email expresses concern about falling speed camera detection rates in the region, which has the equal lowest number of road fatalities in the state.
"In recent times there has been an increase in the number of deployments where the detections have been below five for a three-hour deployment,"
Inspector Feather said.
"Such deployments do not represent best use of the asset."
He points out that police operating hand-held guns would not stand in the same spot for three hours if they did not detect anyone speeding.
The directive contradicts statements made by successive police ministers that speed cameras are about saving lives, not raising revenue. Paul Turner of motoring body the RACQ said he understood mobile speed camera locations were chosen on the basis of their crash history, with a few selected because of traffic volume orcomplaints.
"It's important they maintain a strict criteria for where they are used, so the primary reason they're used is to reduce speed and save lives," said Mr Turner.
"You'd have to consider if they're getting low numbers of detections, drivers are getting the message and driving within the speed limit."
A Queensland Police Service spokesman said the success of mobile speed cameras was judged on a range of factors. "(They include) the number of deployments, the volumes of vehicles passing a site and the crash history of the area," the spokesman said.
"A large number of variables impact on driver behaviour in the vicinity of mobile speed cameras and for that reason the relocation of cameras, after a significant amount of time where limited detections are recorded, is encouraged." The busiest mobile speed camera sites in southeast Queensland last year averaged about 30 detections a day, with the Pacific Highway at Tugun topping the list.
But statistics show the rate is falling, with mobile vans issuing 11 per cent fewer tickets in 2010 than in 2009. At the same time, speed-related fatalities declined, with 42 deaths in the 12 months to August compared with 53 in the previous corresponding period. Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the instruction to traffic police to catch more speeding drivers was another example of how the police service was being run like a business.
"This is symptomatic of the sort of pressure our officers are facing to collect revenue for the state because it is broke," said Mr Leavers. "We object to officers being told they have to run from one speed camera site to another until they get a sufficient number of detections. That doesn't sound like enforcing safety, that sounds like a desperate grab for cash."
He said the police service was already being squeezed by budget pressures, which had led to the announcement of 330 civilian job cuts, reduced overtime and a ban on using high-performance vehicles on escorts.
Opposition police spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said the pressure applied to police to catch more leadfoots was evidence of a "cash-strapped government looking for any potential to increase revenue".