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This note outlines the legislative basis for speed cameras, the types of cameras in use and includes information on their funding. It also discusses issues surrounding their efficacy.

Speed cameras have long been a contentious subject for motorists. Supporters highlight figures that point to their road safety benefits – in reducing both speeds and accidents – while opponents claim that the figures are not clear cut and that the presence of cameras on the roads can have a negative impact on safety.

As part of the National Safety Camera Partnership programme, police forces round the country were able to form a partnership with the local traffic authority and magistrates court. A partnership funding scheme was made available nationally in August 2001. This followed a pilot scheme in eight police force areas. There are now over 30 such Partnerships in England; the Wales Road Casualty Reduction Partnership in Wales and eight Partnerships in Scotland, all overseen by the Scottish Safety Camera Programme. Road safety funding is devolved in both Wales and Scotland.

When the funding criteria changed in 2007 the Partnerships in England widened their scope and are now involved in all forms of road safety (and as such many no longer mention ‘cameras’ in their name). It is a matter for them to decide how they manage their budgets and what they spend their money on – whether that be cameras or other road safety initiatives such as traffic calming or driver education. A number of local areas have switched off their speed cameras over the past couple of years.

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