Road camera surveillance set to increase

Department of Transport figures released under the Freedom of Information Act indicated that total fine receipts for speeding and traffic light offences detected by camera in 2003-04 were £113.5m, of which nearly £92m was "reinvested in road safety as payments back to ... the police, local highway authorities and magistrates courts". The Treasury retained the balance of nearly £22m.

The Guardian reports that drivers talking on mobile phones or failing to wear seatbelts could find themselves tracked down through a widened use of road surveillance cameras, under proposals due to be discussed in parliament: "The plans would form part of a major expansion of camera surveillance which critics say is already transforming Britain into the most watched country in the world."

A transport committee session on 8 March 2006 and a further meeting next week will examine how far this technology can be expanded and what use can be made of the data. Evidence will be presented by bodies representing the police and organisations that campaign on road safety.

Any attempt to widen the application of camera surveillance is likely to be strongly resisted.

Surveillance on drivers may be increased: Cameras could be used to catch those ignoring phone and seat belt laws (The Guardian, 7 March 2006)