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Bedfordshire plans controversial zero-tolerance approach to motorway speed cameras

Bedfordshire Police force is planning to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to motorway speeding to try and raise funds to keep policeman in the job.

The proposals would see speed cameras switched on permanently and a financial sanction imposed on anyone who exceeds the 70mph speed limit, going against the typical system that allows police some leniency.

Drivers caught even one mile-per-hour over the limit on a stretch of the M1 would be slapped with a £100 fine and penalty points put on their driving licence or have the option of spending £90 to attend a speed awareness course.

Speeding fines are paid to the treasury, but the £90 from drivers who opt for the speed awareness course – which is usually favoured as it means avoiding points on the licence and therefore a higher insurance premium – will go straight to Bedfordshire police force.

Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins announced the scheme will begin in April 2016. Speaking to the Telegraph newspaper, he said: “If it is a question of reducing the force by 25 officers or introducing this scheme, then I am going to go for his every time.”

He added: “We have lobbied the Home Office for fair funding but they have not listened so I am forced to come up with new ways of raising revenue. Strict enforcement of the speed limit could raise as much as £1 million, so it is something I have to take seriously.”

Suffice to say, motorists and motoring groups are displeased. RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said he has “total sympathy with cash-strapped constabularies, but no sympathy with forces explicitly setting out to raise money from cameras”.

Meanwhile the Association of British Drivers co-founder Hugh Bladon also criticised the move. “I think this is a dangerous precedent. I am really appalled that a police force should be even considered such an idea.

“My fear is that if police forces see this working in one area they will quickly adopt a similar approach and soon the whole motorway network will be operating a zero tolerance policy”.

Speed cameras are meant to be a deterrent, but it has become common knowledge they are cash cows for local councils, which has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many British motorists who already pay through the nose to keep their car on the road.

On a related note, a road safety charity recently highlighted the public’s willingness to adopt cars with a maximum speed limit, which would make speeding fines a thing of the past but would almost certainly be the final nail in the coffin for driver freedom.

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