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Unmarked Police Camera-Vans Deployed to Ensure Motorists Comply with Council's New 20mph Zones

'Stealth' Cameras are a much better way than traditional methods for gaining compliance.

Police in Northamptonshire have announced the introduction of its first completely unmarked mobile speed camera van in what they claim is a bid to reduce road deaths and injuries in the county, but the introduction of the new unmarked vehicles just happens to coincide with the County Council's road policy of speed reductions across the county.

The scheme to reduce city roads from 30mph to 20mph implemented by North Northamptonshire Council, will likely be enforced by the new 'Stealth' camera-van which has already been deployed in parts of county.

Northamptonshire Police maintain that introducing the force’s first unmarked speed camera van is "to crack down on drivers who use the roads illegally", going on to say the unmarked van would be "used at various locations around Northamptonshire, with priority given to roads with high collision rates or where "poor driving has been reported."

More than 50,000 road offences were reportedly detected in Northamptonshire last year involved one of the ‘Fatal Five’ – careless driving, excessive speed, using a mobile phone behind the wheel, not wearing a seat belt, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, none of these will be tackled by a speed camera van, marked or not, this will be entirely focused on minor infractions where motorists used to the old limits stray over the new lower 20mph limits.

Superintendent Jen Helm, head of operations at Northamptonshire Police and chair of the county’s Safer Roads Alliance, said: “I know the majority consider everyone getting home safe as more important than travelling the extra 10mph over the speed limit or checking their mobile phones while driving, but sometimes people lose focus."

Northamptonshire is another English county that has systematically reduced the speed limits of many of its roads from 30mph to 20mph. The Council's website states: "We are also supportive of 20mph restrictions in new developments where the road design and infrastructure demonstrates a self-enforcing layout which will clearly achieve effective compliance." "Where requests to reduce existing restrictions are concerned, 20mph limits covering a wider area tend to be contentious, and also more expensive as they generally require physical traffic calming measures in the form of speed humps, raised platforms or chicanes in order to gain compliance. These can often look out of place or have a negative visual impact on a residential environment."

Enter the unmarked vehicle that doesn't impact on the 'residential environment' but can still 'gain compliance'.

A study into the effectiveness of 20mph speed limits was published by the Department for Transport in November 2018. It assessed the outcomes of reducing speed limits from 30mph to 20mph in residential areas and town centres. The research provided no clear insight into the value or positive changes created by a 20mph scheme. Critics of the schemes have pointed out that the reduction, far from it being to improve safety, is really an ideological decision as part of the ongoing war against the motorist.


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