Speed Cameras - 566/12
Dated: 07 Jun 2011
Date of request: 08/07/12
Date of response: 31/07/2012
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 8th July 2012 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.
As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
In the 2011 calendar year what were the three fixed position permanent speed camera sites in your area that recorded the most speeding offences? Please give the exact positions of these cameras. How many speeding offences did each of these three camera sites identify in total?
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with both the Fixed Penalty and Camera Enforcement Units of Northumbria Police.
Your request asked for the fixed position safety camera sites in Northumbria that had been responsible for detecting the most speeding offences. You asked for the location of the cameras and the number of offences in total for 2011. We have reviewed this question and note that it has the phrase '...recorded the most speeding offences.' We have, therefore, assumed you are referring to cases where there has been a prosecution, ie the issue of a Fixed Penalty Notice, Summons or National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS).
I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police, however will not be disclosed and in withholding we rely on the following exemption.
S31(1)(a)(b)(c) - Law Enforcement
This is a qualified and prejudice based exemption and I am required to identify the harm involved in disclosure and consider the public interest in disclosure. I have set these out below.
This request asks for details about the fixed position roadside cameras that have resulted in the highest number of detections for speeding offences. The subject of speeding is a very emotive subject and although the requested information is just a total number any information released about specific locations can result in severe damage to cameras and housings which means that money has to be diverted from other road safety budgets to pay for the repairs.
There are many instances where such cameras have been subjected to damage, for example the BBC reported details of 13 cameras in South and Mid-Wales being fire damaged in the last five years, 29/06/2011, (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ukwales-north-east-wales-13961496). The same report also states there were 32 incidents of damage in North Wales since 2004. Another example is that of Lincolnshire. In a recent article, 24/06/2011, it was disclosed that 15 of the 50 cameras in Lincolnshire had been attacked and that the Crimestoppers organisation is now offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the crime, (http://www.thisislincolnshire.co.uk/Reward-offeredspeed-camera-arson-attacks/story-12825192-detail/story.html). The same article goes on to state that 'Since the cameras have been out of action, eight people have been seriously injured and 31 people have suffered minor injuries at these sites'. This is an indication of the actual physical harm that can occur when cameras are not working. Northumbria Police have, in the last three full years 2009-2011, had 18 safety cameras criminally damaged.
Public Interest Test
Factors favouring disclosure of the requested information:
There is already available on the Northumbria Safer Roads Initiative web site (http://www.safespeedforlife.co.uk/) details of the locations of all fixed position cameras within Northumbria. This request is asking for additional information about specific cameras.
Factors favouring non-disclosure of the information:
The siting of cameras is based on accident statistics and when a piece of road is identified as meeting that criteria and funds are available a camera will be installed. If funds are not available there is a risk that more accidents will occur resulting in further injuries. Collisions where death or serious injury occurs are attended by police officers. If an identified site has had its camera vandalised there is a greater possibility that an accident will occur resulting in a requirement to deploy officers who would otherwise be engaged elsewhere.
This test is looking at the above arguments for the disclosure or non-disclosure of the requested information. Having reviewed the above I acknowledge that this is additional information to that already provided. If someone wants to damage a camera we already identify their locations. However where siting of a camera is backed by evidence of the need to have one in that area the release of information that could make a specific site vulnerable to attack could lead to it being damaged. The harm above shows how many cameras are being damaged and provides evidence on the number of collisions that have occurred since the cameras had been out of action. There is nothing to say these collisions would not have occurred anyway but anything that can save injury and allow police resources to be better used has to be more in the public interest than knowing which camera topped the list for speed detection.
You should consider this to be a refusal under Section 17 of the Act for your request.
The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual property rights of Northumbria Police. Your use of the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation. In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial purpose.
How to complain
If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our complaints procedure which can be found at: http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/foicomprights.asp
If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.