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New PCC David Jamieson wants to turn speed cameras back on

West Midlands police and crime commissioner makes first pledge after dismal electoral turn-out

David Jamieson with supporters
David Jamieson with supporters

The new police boss for the West Midlands has vowed to try to find the cash to switch the region's fixed speed cameras back on.

Labour's David Jamieson became the second police and crime commissioner (PCC) for the West Midlands in last week's by-election by securing 50.83 per cent of the first preference votes - avoiding the need for a second round run-off.

Despite sweeping the floor with more than half of the votes, it was still one of the lowest turnouts in British electoral history.

Just one in 10 people from across the region voted in the election which was sparked by the sudden death of previous incumbent Bob Jones on July 1.

The cost to the taxpayer of staging the poll has been estimated at £3.7 million which works out at just under £20 for every vote cast.

Speaking to the Post after his win, Mr Jamieson, who was a transport minister in the last Labour government, said he would be looking at the speed camera issue as a priority.

All 305 of the region's speed and traffic light cameras were turned off in March 2013.

Since then, the speed enforcement operations have been carried out by four mobile camera units, fixed cameras on the motorways and traffic officers on patrol.

Bob Jones had announced a trial of replacement fixed digital speed cameras but had warned that the costs of turning all the cameras back on would have to be justified by an improvement in safety and a reduction in casualties.

The new 67-year-old commissioner said his top priorities were the recruitment of police officers, neighbourhood policing and working to reduce the number of people killed or injured on the region's roads.

As a transport minister, Mr Jamieson introduced the managed motorways pilot to the M42, helped bring in legislation enabling the police to crush the cars of uninsured drivers and made sure fixed speed cameras were painted yellow.

He vowed to take a fresh look at reactivating speed cameras after his win, but added: "We need to see if we can afford it."

The former Solihull councillor added: "It is with some humility that I now carry on the work of Bob Jones. He will be a very difficult act to follow.

"The most important task is to continue with the recruitment of new police officers and to oppose any attempt to privatise front-line policing."

The funds from speeding fines are passed on to the Treasury with West Midlands Police only eligible for a share of what is generated from driver awareness courses.

When the fixed site cameras were switched off, road safety campaigners claimed it gave drivers carte blanche to speed.

Ed Morrow, campaigns officer for road safety charity Brake, said: "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."

The Government defended last week's election following the low turnout figures.

Policing Minister Mike Penning conceded that he was disappointed with the turnout but added: "We must bear in mind that this was a by-election taking place in August following the sad death of Bob Jones.

"Around 200,000 people voted, whereas nobody voted for their old police authority.

"Our police reforms are working and crime is down more than 10 per cent under this government."

West Midlands UKIP MEP James Carver has written to Mr Jamieson challenging him to look into the recent completion of a multi-million pound consulting contract agreed by the West Midlands police authority.

Accenture UK was chosen in July as the preferred bidder for the biggest 'public-private partnership' in the force's history.

The £70 million contract will lead to a radical shake-up of services at West Midland Police, with the company looking at areas of technology, customer service and organisational efficiency.

Mr Carver said: "During the course of the PCC election campaign, we heard various misleading comments from Labour party supporters, wrongly suggesting that UKIP are somehow in favour of privatising the police.

"Following Bob Jones' tragic passing, whilst the police authority leadership was in limbo and under the guidance of unelected Labour deputy PCC Yvonne Mosquito, a huge outsourcing or privatisation service contract, running into tens of million pounds in value, was signed.

"I congratulate David Jamieson on his election as the new West Midlands PCC but trust that he understands my concerns that I'm raising at the start of his new role.

"He has a duty to look into the timing of the signing of this contract. Bob's sudden passing should, in my opinion, have necessitated a temporary hold to the contract process, until the election of the new PCC had been concluded."

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