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FAQs

The aim of NSRI is to reduce the number of road traffic collisions and road user casualties in the Northumbria police force area.  To achieve this, NSRI works in partnership with other organisations in the Northumbria police force area, such as the police, local authorities and fire and rescue services to make the roads safer for all users through a combination of education, engineering and enforcement activity.

In road traffic collisions, there is a direct link between the speeds at which vehicles travelled and both the risk of a collision occurring and its consequences.  Together these risks can be reduced by bringing speeds down to more appropriate levels and keeping them there.  The intention of using safety cameras to enforce the speed limit of a road is to reduce the risk of collisions occurring in the first place and also to reduce the severity of those which do occur.

Between 2010 and 2014, there were 674 people either injured or killed on the roads in the Northumbria police force area where someone involved was exceeding the speed limit.

Vehicle speed also plays a vital part in the severity of the collision, even when it may not have been a factor in the cause of the collision.  We see this from the casualty statistics, with only around 3% of injuries on the roads in Northumbria resulting from collisions where a driver or rider was exceeding the speed limit, but 9% of fatalities coming from these collisions.

Speed is certainly a prevalent factor to a pedestrian, with a pedestrian being twice as likely to die when hit at 35mph as at 30mph.  Just a few miles per hour makes a drastic difference to the survival of a pedestrian, but is negligible in terms of your time saved on your journey.

The purpose of safety cameras is to reduce the number of people killed and injured in collisions on our roads.  No organisation in the partnership makes money from speed or red-light enforcement cameras, with all money collected from fines being sent directly to HM Treasury.  However, more importantly, if all motorists adhered to the traffic laws, it would make our roads significantly safer for all that use them.

The most recent research carried out by NSRI and Newcastle University’s Transport Operations Research Group in Spring 2014 estimates that the partnership’s current “core” programme of mobile safety camera enforcement prevents 63 road user casualties per year, 32 of which would have been killed or seriously injured if the road had not been treated with a safety camera site.  This estimate was calculated using peer reviewed methods developed by Newcastle University’s School of Mathematics and Statistics and is published in the “Research and Reports” section of the “Document Library” page.

Whilst there is no similar recent research on the effectiveness of fixed speed cameras in Northumbria, the most highly regarded national work by the RAC Foundation estimated that fixed speed cameras in Britain prevent around 2,000 collisions per year, over 500 of which would have involved a person who would have been killed or seriously injured.

There are several different methods that NSRI employ to detect motorists breaking the law on Northumbria’s road network.  A motorist is judged to have committed a speeding offence if they are recorded as travelling at a speed of at least 10% plus two miles per hour above the speed limit for that section of road.  Therefore, on a 30mph section of road, the “enforcement threshold” is 35mph.

The most visible tool that NSRI use to detect offenders are fixed spot speed cameras, which detect if a vehicle is exceeding the enforcement threshold when passing a single point.  There are 42 locations around Northumbria’s road network that have fixed spot speed camera housings installed, although due to limited resources, not every location will necessarily have a live camera installed in the housing at all times.

Average speed cameras are currently not deployed by NSRI; however they are presently being used by Highways England on the A1 Western Bypass in Gateshead to enforce the temporarily lowered speed limit during the road works.  These cameras work by recording the time that a vehicle takes to travel between two cameras a set distance apart on the road.  By dividing the distance by the time taken, the camera calculates the average speed that the vehicle has travelled on the section of road, and if this is above the enforcement threshold then the driver is judged to have committed an offence.

NSRI have 18 cameras installed at traffic lights around the force area.  These detect whether a vehicle has disobeyed a traffic signal by crossing the stop line after the red-light has been lit.  Depending on the length of time the light has been on red, eligible offenders may be offered the option to attend a retraining course.  If this option is not offered then the offence is processed in the same way as a speeding offence through the fixed penalty system.  In addition to red-light offences, one junction in Boldon has “speed on green” cameras that also function as a regular spot speed camera when the traffic lights are on green.

Most of the enforcement activity carried out by NSRI on Northumbria’s road network is by trained operators in mobile safety camera vans. These vans attend sections of road that have been identified by NSRI as potential or actual collision hotspots where illegal speed is a road safety issue.  Once in place, these vans act in much the same way as a fixed speed camera, however, the difference being that that operator can enforce the speed limit over a wider area (typically around 500 metres), and is also in a position to record other motoring offences, such as using a handheld mobile phone or not wearing a seatbelt.

There are two different types of mobile camera sites: “core” sites and “community speed concern” sites.

“Core” sites are identified through a rigorous investigation of collision history on sections of road in the police force area.  Following annual meetings with the appropriate local authority representatives, “core” sites are visited by a mobile safety camera van on a programme cycle developed by NSRI and Newcastle University to ensure that the limited resources are used most effectively to influence the highest numbers of potential offenders on the most “at-risk” roads.  There are currently 124 “core” sites in Northumbria, although not all are visited each cycle.

The other type of mobile camera site, “community speed concern” sites, are used by NSRI to address concerns raised by local residents that sections of road have a problem with speeding vehicles.  Whilst the appropriate local authority must prove that illegal speeding is an issue on the road in question (taken as the 85th percentile speed of traffic on the road exceeding the enforcement threshold), these sites do not necessarily need to have had any history of collisions, but are instead a preventative measure to ensure that potential future collisions due to illegal speed are stopped.  There are currently 22 of these sites in Northumbria.

The safety cameras in the mobile vans are all manually operated by a trained Northumbria Police employee.

Within the vans there is a tripod mounted video camera linked to a laser speed detection device.  Throughout an enforcement period, the video system is recording high definition footage, and all images recorded are overlaid with the laser device data.  The operator is responsible for observing vehicles and if it is believed that a vehicle is exceeding the speed limit then the operator manually activates the laser and a speed is recorded.  If the speed is below the enforcement threshold then no further action is taken.  If it is above the threshold then action will be taken against the driver.

Northumbria Police currently employ five police officers and two civilian police staff to operate the mobile safety camera vans.  All seven members of staff are fully qualified and legally permitted to deploy safety cameras and enforce the law.

Yes.  The initial offence is captured as the motorcycle approaches the van and the operator then records the registration number as it passes the van.

The operator of the mobile safety camera is constantly viewing traffic during enforcement and will actively look for any other offence, for example using a mobile telephone whilst driving, or driving without a seatbelt.  These offences are recorded by the operator and processed as offences in their own right.  The operator’s view is evidentially supported by the video recorded footage.

Each site length is different and is chosen based on the road itself and the data which has caused it to be a site in the first instance.  However they tend to be around one kilometre in length as this length of road is used as part of the initial site selection criteria.

Sites are normally marked with camera warning signs in both directions and the cameras themselves are capable of operating up to one kilometre away from an offending vehicle.  The length of particular sites is given in the “All Site Information” spreadsheet in the Data section of this website’s Document Library.

The static fixed and red light camera markers displayed on this website’s camera site maps should be exactly the locations of these cameras in the real world.

Mobile and community speed concern sites are slightly different.  These sites are enforced across a wider area, which is usually around one kilometre, although the exact extents are given in the “All Site Information” spreadsheet in the Data section of this website’s Document Library.  This means that within these site boundaries there are several locations where the camera operator may park the van to conduct enforcement activities (governed by considerations such as there being an available parking space and the level and position of the sun in relation to the road).  Therefore, for this website’s maps, the centre point of each mobile and community speed concern site has been plotted to give consistency across all sites, but as a result the real world location of the enforcement activity will be slightly different to that plotted on the maps (usually varying by up to 500 metres).

NSRI still currently use the final guidance issued by the Department for Transport in 2007 following the end of the National Safety Camera Programme to select new core safety camera sites, with one exception.  The exception is that as the roads in Northumbria are now much safer than they were in 2007, we do not require for a person to be killed or seriously injured before considering a section of road for a core safety camera (providing that the other criteria is met).  The full criteria for site selection are laid out in full in the “Guidance and Policy” section of the “Document Library” page.

Every year, NSRI use the nationally audited data collected by Northumbria Police officers following attendance at, or notification of a road traffic collision in which someone was injured or killed (which is known as “Stats 19”) to identify sections of road in the police force area with elevated numbers of collisions over the previous three years.  All these sections of road are then discussed with local authority partners, who advise whether they believe that speed was or could have been a factor in the collisions that occurred.  Following this, NSRI fully analyse the collisions on the identified sections of road to see if there were any underlying issues, which are then reported back to the local authority.  If speed was an underlying issue then the local authority conducts a speed survey on the road to check if a significant number of vehicles do exceed the enforcement threshold (judged by the 85th percentile speed), and if this is the case then the section of road is induced as a new core camera site.

In the course of these meetings with local authority representatives, the existing safety camera sites are also reviewed to make sure that they are being used in the places where they will have the greatest road safety benefit, which are sections of road with the greatest number of serious or fatal collisions, where illegal speeding of large numbers of vehicles is also an issue.

The number of times that a mobile safety camera van will visit a core mobile site is determined using a formula developed by NSRI and Newcastle University that takes into account the 85th percentile speed of traffic on the road, the number of vehicles, and the number of serious and fatal collisions over the last three years.

Every year between January and March, NSRI officers meet with each of the six local authority representatives in the Northumbria Police Force Area to review current and potential new safety camera sites.  If a current safety camera site has not had any collisions occurring on it for the previous three years then it is flagged up to the local authority representative to decide whether to decommission the site or keep it in a reduced capacity if they still believe road safety to be a potential issue on the section of road in question (for example by dropping a “core” mobile site down to “community speed concern” status).  This decommissioning policy is included in the “Guidance and Reports” section of the “Document Library” page.

Whilst NSRI attempts to be as open as possible about where all our camera sites are, and do not make any attempt to hide our presence at camera sites, we do not believe that road safety is improved by disclosing which sections of road will be visited each week or month by the mobile safety camera vans.

As of June 2015, NSRI have 43 fixed speed camera sites, 124 “core” mobile safety camera sites, 22 community speed concern sites and 18 red-light camera sites.  There is also one average speed camera site covering the roadworks in both directions on the A1 Western Bypass in Gateshead.

NSRI employ 20 Gatsometer and 3 Truvelo fixed speed cameras, 5 Gatsometer and 1 Robot red light cameras, and 5 mobile vans that each have one Lastec LTI 20.20 Ultralyte 1000 camera.

The Road Traffic Act 1991 states that “a highway authority may install and maintain on or near a highway structures and equipment for the detection of traffic offences.”  This legislation permits the positioning of the safety camera van and equipment anywhere on the road network.  The officer deploying the vehicle does so legally and always undertakes a dynamic risk assessment regarding the positioning of the vehicle ensuring there is no obstruction to other road users or safe free passage to vehicles or pedestrians as a result of this deployment.  They do not contravene any legislation, and the safety of all other road users and the officer is paramount.

The vans will normally park in a pre-agreed location at a site.  However it is sometimes necessary for the operator to park the van in a different location at the site (but still enforcing within the site’s pre-agreed boundary).  If this is the case, the operator will assess the new location and apply the same legal guidelines on each occasion.

When the vehicles are deployed, NSRI take every effort to inform and warn motorists to influence them to slow down and adhere to the speed limit.  The vehicles are emblazoned with road safety graphics, hi-viz markings, livery and a safety camera warning sign on all four sides.  The vehicles are some 16 feet long by seven feet wide and seven feet tall.  At no time do the officers try to hide or obscure the vehicles, however it is the responsibility of drivers to be aware of and adhere to speed limits at all times.

Camera warning signs are not a statutory requirement.  They do not have any bearing on the police’s ability to legally enforce the speed limit by whichever means they deem appropriate.  Therefore the presence or otherwise of camera warning signs and the forward visibility of the camera, vehicle or operator to the driver, does not in any way impede the legal operation of the camera and any subsequent prosecution of offenders that are detected as a result of its operation.  NSRI and local authority partners will however endeavour to deploy either temporary or permanent camera warning signs at mobile sites and will place these signs within one kilometre of the camera van.

Mobile safety cameras are used to monitor and detect offenders travelling in both directions passing the operator, achieving a front view of vehicles approaching and a rear view of vehicles driving away.  Static cameras will only detect offenders travelling in one direction, but some types can be turned on their columns to detect offenders either travelling towards or away from the camera, thus providing either front or rear view images of the offending vehicles.

NSRI enforce speed limits according to the current National Police Chief’s Council guidelines, which covers speeds in excess of 10% plus two miles per hour above the speed limit for that section of road and the type of vehicle committing the offence.  For example, a car travelling at 35mph on a 30mph limit road would be judged to have committed an offence while a car travelling at 34mph would not.  For the most up to date list of what speed limits apply to each vehicle type on all types of roads, please visit the following link: https://www.gov.uk/speed-limits.

The Department for Transport does not permit local authorities to place repeater 30mph signs on roads in built-up areas where there is a system of street lighting in place.  This means that a reminder of the speed limit cannot legally be given on these roads, with drivers and riders expected to observe rule 124 of the Highway Code that “the presence of street lights generally means that there is a 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limit unless otherwise specified.”

A speed limit commences at the speed limit sign, and speed should be modified accordingly when approaching a lower limit.  Once past a speed limit sign you are required by law to drive at or below the speed stated so there is technically no minimum distance away from a change in speed limit that a camera can enforce.

Whilst the police and NSRI enforce the speed limit, the limits themselves are set by the relevant highways authority.  On motorways and trunk roads (except the A167(M) Central Motorway in Newcastle), the speed limit is set by Highways England, while on all other public roads, the speed limit is set by the local authority.  Before a speed limit is set, the police are consulted and a traffic regulation order is issued where required.  NSRI will not consider enforcing a new speed limit until at least a year after the change occurred.

If you think that a section of road has a speeding problem, then the first step is to use the camera site map on this website to check to see if NSRI already deploy a safety camera in the vicinity. If there is not a camera site in place then your first point of contact should be either your local neighbourhood policing team (contact details for whom you can find through www.northumbria.police.uk/your_neighbourhood), or your local authority’s roads/highways/engineering team (who’s contact details can be found on the appropriate local authority’s website).

If a speed problem is proven then the site will be assessed for the most appropriate road safety measures. Potential solutions may include traffic calming, on-going speed enforcement, community speed watch visits, road re-engineering or improved signage, to name but a few. Safety cameras are just one road safety measure that can be considered, although as funds are limited, any intervention work will be prioritised according to its casualty reduction and prevention benefit.

NSRI is currently funded from a number of sources.  Each partner local authority makes a funding contribution based on the level of funding that they received from the Communities and Local Government Grant in 2010.  The remaining running costs for the partnership are obtained from a portion of the income from “Speed Awareness” courses, which form part of the “National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme” (NDORS), and are currently run by AA DriveTech on behalf of the partnership.  Northumbria Police do not make a financial contribution to the partnership.

If an offender does not qualify for a speed awareness course, or decides to not take up the offer of attending one, they are subject to a fine of £100 and three penalty points are applied to their driving licence.  In more serious cases, offenders are referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for further legal action.  All income received from these fines is retained by HM Treasury.

Once the partnership running costs are met, remaining income from speed awareness courses can be directed towards assisting partners with schemes to improve road safety that are not already provided by the partnership.  As NSRI is not a private company, none of this income is returned to any partner, so all must be spent on improving road safety in Northumbria.

No, none of the partners in NSRI (including the police, local authorities and the fire and rescue service) receive any money from speed camera enforcement, ensuring that there is not an incentive to only visit safety camera sites where we would “catch more” offenders.

Your notice is in line with the Government strategy to make roads safer for all road users. Exceeding the legal speed limit is an offence for which a fine and penalty points are mandatory.  These measures are in place to help reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads, and your driving behaviour is the key to the success of this strategy.

However, if your offence was recorded within a certain speed threshold, and you have not already attended one in the last three years, you may be offered the opportunity to attend a speed awareness course as part of the “National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme”.

In Northumbria, the usual thresholds for offering a speed awareness course are for speeds up to 7mph over the enforcement threshold. Above this threshold you will not be offered a speed awareness course.

You are obliged as the registered keeper/nominated driver to complete one section on the reverse of the form and return it to the Fixed Penalty Unit.  If you have identified yourself as the driver of the vehicle you normally get a conditional offer, which gives you the opportunity to pay the mandatory penalty or elect to go to court.

This gives you the opportunity to settle the matter without having to go to court.  The current fine is £100, and you will also have three penalty points added to your driving licence.  You may still elect to have the matter heard at court.

However, if you have more than eight points on your driving licence, this prevents the matter being dealt with by “Conditional Offer”, and the matter can only be dealt with at the magistrates’ courts.  You should write to the Fixed Penalty Unit advising them of the situation, and a court summons will then be issued giving the time and date of the hearing.

No.  If you receive a fixed penalty, the fine is set by the government and therefore not negotiable.  The penalty set by the government is currently £100 plus three penalty points.  However, in certain circumstances you may qualify for a speed awareness course.  After admitting to being the driver and if you are eligible for this course you will be advised accordingly.

Penalty points are valid for a period of three years, but cannot be removed from your licence until four years have elapsed.

If this penalty means you have accumulated six penalty points within two years of passing your driving test you will be dealt with under the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995.  Your full driving licence will be taken away and you will only be allowed to drive again after you have applied for a provisional licence.  Both the theory and practical driving tests will need to be retaken before a full driving licence can be reissued.  In this instance you may wish to have the alleged offence dealt with in a magistrates court rather than accept the fixed penalty and the immediate loss of your licence.

You can be given penalty points even if you’re on a Provisional Licence.  You’re as much at risk from offences like speeding as a fully-qualified driver.

If you are the vehicle owner or the nominated person, you have a duty to identify the driver of the vehicle.  If you genuinely do not know who was driving please provide information as to what action you have taken to identify the driver, giving names and addresses of any potential drivers.  Failure to provide the information may result in the keeper, nominated driver, or company being taken to court.

You must not do that under any circumstances.  If you genuinely do not know who the driver was you should write to the Fixed Penalty Unit and give a full explanation of why that is so.  Anyone who signs to accept responsibility for being the driver when they know they were not is at risk of proceedings for attempting or conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, which are very serious offences often punished by imprisonment.

As a responsible employer, you have a duty to identify the driver of the vehicle in question.  Your company vehicle log or records should assist you in this.  Failure to do so will result in your company being taken to court.

No.  The Notice of Intended Prosecution has to be issued to the registered keeper within 14 days of an alleged offence.  It is usual in fixed penalty cases for this to be sent to the registered owner/keeper.  If you have received a notice after this time period it is likely to be because you have consequently been named as the driver or the new owner of the vehicle.

The Human Rights Act does not affect the returning of this paperwork.  Primary legislation dictates that you are obliged to provide the information requested.  Failure to do so will result in prosecution.

The alleged offence will be dealt with through a hearing of facts at the appropriate magistrates court.  This will take account of any problems or mitigating circumstances.  At the end of the fixed penalty time limit Northumbria Police will automatically schedule the matter to be dealt with by the court in your absence (you do not have to attend court).  If you wish to plead ‘not guilty’, a full court hearing will take place and you will be required to attend.

You have a right to challenge the offence in court.  The magistrates will then decide whether to award a fine and penalty points.  However, please be aware that the courts have the right to increase any fine or penalty points, in addition to court costs, if you are convicted.

This is not mitigation.  It amounts to a “Not Guilty” plea.  You should consider seeking legal advice in respect of this.  If you believe that you have a defence to the offence alleged in the Notice of Intended Prosecution, you may, if you wish, request a court hearing by completing the relevant section of the form.  Please note that we are not in a position to consider a valid defence or mitigating circumstances.  These are matters that can only be dealt with by a court of law.

The statements that you didn’t know the road, about the speed limit or cameras, being late for an appointment or there being no other traffic on the road are not acceptable excuses.  Correspondence with us relating to this type of argument will not be entered into.  Depending on the circumstances, only drivers of emergency vehicles may have a legal exemption to exceed speed limits or contravene red traffic lights.  If you are offered the chance to pay a Conditional Fixed Penalty rather than attend court, but choose not to, you may put your mitigating circumstances to the magistrates.  However, you should be aware that costs may be awarded against you by the court and you may incur more penalty points.

This is understandable but it is not a defence to a speeding charge and is unlikely to be accepted as mitigation.  It is common for speedometers to read a little fast.  All users of vehicles are under a duty to ensure the speedometer is in good working order.  Additionally, whilst Type Approval Regulations do allow some flexibility for speedometers to read a little fast, no degree of under-reading at all is permitted.  So if you think your speedometer may be indicating a slower than actual speed, it is important to have this checked out with your main dealer or garage without delay – for safety’s sake but also to avoid added risk of proceedings for a further offence of driving with a defective speedometer.

Not as a matter of routine.  The photographic evidence is used to support a prosecution case.

If your driving licence or the full payment cannot be tendered to the payment office within the stated time then the alleged offence cannot be dealt with through the fixed penalty system and alternative arrangements will have to be made.

You should immediately apply to DVLA Swansea for a replacement/duplicate driving licence (you need application forms D1 and D750 which can be obtained from any main post office).  You will need to produce a current driving licence whether the matter is dealt with by the fixed penalty system or a court hearing.

You can still send the driving licence to the fixed penalty payment office, together with £100 and the payment form, to avoid exceeding the fixed penalty time limit.  When your licence is returned, you can then send the licence to DVLA to have the details changed.

The fixed penalty notice is intended as a quick and simple system to help you resolve the matter without attending court.  Failure to respond and provide the requested information will mean your case will be passed to the court.

It is not a waste of time.  It is the duty of the police to bring alleged offences before the courts.

 

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