Fixed speed cameras are to return to Birmingham’s roads, barely 18 months after they were turned off across the region.
All 305 of the region’s speed and traffic light cameras were axed last March, but a new trial of fixed digital sites will launch in October across selected sites in Birmingham and Solihull.
Since March the region’s speed enforcement operations have been carried out by just four mobile camera units, fixed cameras on the motorways and traffic officers on patrol.
Now it has been revealed that new digital cameras, which are much cheaper to operate than the old ones which used film, will be introduced at the end of the year to see if some of the fixed sites can be reintroduced.
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Cann told the West Midlands Police Crime Board that the force expects the prosecutions from the four mobile vans to be in line with the previous convictions on fixed sites.
He said: “Since the fixed cameras were switched off there has been more reliance on mobile vans.
“We estimated that we would see 65,000 activations and we are pretty much in line to meet those figures.
“We are still in discussions with the seven local authorities about any planned investment in the fixed site infrastructure.
“Exploratory work is under way to assess the viability of deploying new digital fixed speed cameras in Birmingham and Solihull. A tender document is being prepared by the local authorities for the supply and installation of equipment.
“The potential running costs for West Midlands Police are still to be confirmed but it is unlikely that they will be fully covered by the income generated from the resulting speed awareness courses and this will be a consideration when assessing the potential viability of the project.”
The funds from speeding fines are passed on to the Treasury with West Midlands Police only eligible for a share of funds generated from driver awareness courses.
ACC Cann said the number of people taking up the offer of speed awareness courses instead of penalty points and fines had also dropped from 30 per cent to 21 per cent.
He said the changes could be down to mobile teams catching drivers at higher speeds, more drivers choosing to accept points and the processes of the central ticketing office.
Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones told the Board the speed camera trial is set to launch in Birmingham and Solihull in October.
He said: “The pilot will see the use of new digital cameras, which are more efficient to operate.
“They will offer remote access to the information, which will mean the officer costs will be minimal when compared to the other cameras, which had film.
“We will not be committed to this if the pilot does not provide the results we want to see in terms of improving safety and reducing casualties.”
When the fixed site cameras were switched off road safety campaigners reacted angrily and said it gave drivers carte blanche to speed.
Ed Morrow, campaigns officer, for road safety charity Brake said: “Brake welcomes the reintroduction of fixed speed cameras in Birmingham and Solihull, and we hope this will lead to their return more widely in the West Midlands.
“Speed cameras are proven to reduce casualties on our roads, and the cost of operating them is massively outweighed by the cost to society of the deaths and injuries they prevent.”