The installation and operational costs for 599 speed cameras (mobile and fixed) deployed during a two-year pilot study in the United Kingdom totaled approximately £21 million.

11 February 2003
Cleveland County; England; Lincolnshire; England; Northamptonshire; England; Nottingham; England; Strathclyde; Scotland; Essex; England; Thames Valley; England; Glamorgan County; Wales

Summary Information

In 1998, the United Kingdom’s Department for Transport (DfT) adopted a policy to allow local partnerships to recover the cost of implementing and operating their speed and red-light enforcement systems. In April 2000, a cost recovery system for speed and red-light cameras was introduced in eight pilot areas across England, Wales and Scotland. The cost recovery system was established so that fines generated from the enforcement cameras could be reinvested by the local partnership rather than paid directly to Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT). To address legality and accountability issues, a formal process for collecting and distributing fines was established. Receipts of fines were passed through the Magistrates’ Courts to the Lord Chancellor’s Department and then to the DfT. The DfT passed the funds to a local lead authority which distributed the funds to each of the local partners. An audit was conducted at the end of the year to prove that receipts were used to recoup the costs of the enforcement systems. Final payment was made to the partnership once a ‘clean’ audit certificate had been issued. Surplus funds were returned to HMT.

Four enforcement methods were used in the pilot:
    • Fixed speed enforcement. Cameras are usually unmanned and installed in camera housings.
    • Mobile speed enforcement with setup on the roadside and attended by a police officer or civilian enforcement officer. Cameras are either wet film or video.
    • Red-light enforcement cameras which operate similar to fixed speed cameras.
    • Digital speed enforcement. These cameras measure speed of vehicles between two fixed points typically along high-speed roads with serious crash histories.
The eight sites selected for the pilot were: Cleveland, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottingham, Strathclyde (Glasgow only), Essex, Thames Valley, and South Wales. These sites represented a broad range of experience, demographics, and technologies and included a total of 599 camera sites.

The Cleveland pilot consisted of 31 sites. The enforcement strategy focused solely on mobile sites in mostly 30 mph zones. Prior to the pilot, Cleveland had little experience with enforcement systems.

Lincolnshire, a rural area, used mostly fixed camera sites. Approximately half of the 44 sites situated on roads with speed limits of 60 – 70 mph. Lincolnshire also had little experience with enforcement prior to the pilot.

The Northamptonshire pilot consisted of five fixed camera sites and 45 mobile camera sites. Mobile enforcement was typically conducted on long stretches of roads known as red routes (corridors greater than 1 km). Enforcement took place at 10 sites where the speed limit was 60 – 70 mph. In terms of enforcement history, the Northamptonshire area was comparatively new to camera enforcement.

The Nottingham pilot consisted of 28 sites: two digital cameras on its ring road, seven mobile cameras, and 19 red-light mobile cameras. Enforcement took place mostly in 30 mph speed zones. Nottingham had little experience with enforcement systems.

In Strathclyde, 28 fixed camera sites were established in mostly 30 mph zones. In terms of enforcement history, the Strathclyde partnership was one of the more experienced.

The Essex pilot consisted of 46 mobile sites in urban areas. Essex has a long history of enforcement as well as reduction in casualties.

The Thames Valley pilot consisted of a total of 276 sites: 226 existing fixed and 50 mobile. Of these sites, 204 were in 30 mph speed zones. Like Essex, Thames Valley is one of the more experienced sites and has seen a reduction in casualties.

South Wales has a total of 96 camera sites: 70 fixed and 26 mobile. In terms of enforcement history, the South Wales partnership was one of the more experienced.

The costs associated with camera enforcement and processing of fixed penalty notices were collected for the first two years – April 2000 to the end of March 2002 (see table excerpted from the report). Costs increased for year two which may be due in part that not all of the sites were fully operational during the first year. In the second half of year two, the number of fixed penalties paid began to plateau which may be due to increased compliance. Total cost for the two-year pilot was £21 million. Total penalties paid during the two years were just over £27 million. Approximately £6 million was returned to HMT.

Pilot Area
Year 1
Year 2
Strathclyde (Glasgow only)
Thames Valley
South Wales

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Department for Transport: A cost recovery system for speed and red-light cameras - two year pilot evaluation

Author: Gains, Adrian, et al. (PA Consulting Group, and University College London)

Published By: Department for Transport, Road Safety Division

Prepared by PA Consulting Group and the University College London for the Department for Transport, Road Safety Division

Source Date: 11 February 2003


System Cost

Total cost for the two-year pilot: £21 million.


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photo enforcement, speed cameras, automated speed enforcement, automated enforcement, photo radar, red light cameras, red light running, traffic signals, run red lights, RLR, red light runners, photo-red

Cost ID: 2004-00085