Skip to main content

Safety Cameras

Volume 735: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2023

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the Secretary of State to publish revised guidance on the deployment, visibility and signing of speed and red-light cameras for traffic enforcement; to require that guidance to include amended site selection criteria for safety cameras, including a lower threshold for the number of collisions in which a person is killed or seriously injured; to require that guidance to provide for a process by which local communities can express support for the installation of safety cameras in areas of concern; and for connected purposes.

A 2007 circular from the Department for Transport recognised speeding as one of the

“most significant dimensions of unlawful, disorderly and dangerous road vehicle use”.

It provided key guidance on the use of speed and red light cameras for traffic enforcement to improve the safety of road users and pedestrians. It encouraged changes in driver behaviour, paved the way for local authority partnerships to support their communities and outlined criteria for site selection to help decision making regarding any new cameras.

I want to get ahead of the keen journalists in the Gallery and confess that I currently have three points on my licence for speeding, but I emphasise that I was caught by a camera and modified my behaviour—proving that cameras do, in fact, work.

Fifteen years on from the introduction of the guidance, speeding motorists are arguably the No. 1 local issue highlighted across Dewsbury, Mirfield, Kirkburton, Denby Dale and, I am told, many of my colleagues’ constituencies. Alongside the concerns that my constituents regularly raise, that is something I have seen myself, with the Dewsbury ring road in particular occasionally resembling an Indy 500 track.

Speeding became significantly more noticeable during the pandemic, when fewer people were driving, with some drivers taking advantage of the emptier roads to drive at reckless speeds. I pay tribute to West Yorkshire police for all the work it continues to do to keep our roads safe, but it cannot be everywhere at once, especially given the vast expanse of rural roads.

According to the current guidance, the primary objective of camera deployment is to reduce deaths and injuries on roads, with a study conducted by the London School of Economics finding that, from 1992 to 2016, traffic enforcement cameras reduced accidents by between 17% and 39%, while reducing fatalities by between 58% and 68%.

Since April 2009, the criteria for fixed and mobile camera deployment have been based on the number of accidents in which someone is killed or seriously injured, with a scoring system in which each KSI accident scores five points and each slight injury accident scores one point.

Sixty-five people died and more than 5,000 people were injured in collisions on the roads of West Yorkshire last year. The majority of these collisions were entirely preventable, with excessive or inappropriate speed being one of the most common factors in fatal and serious injury collisions. However, the guidance in West Yorkshire still requires at least three people to be killed or seriously injured within a three-year period—at least three people need either to die or suffer a serious collision, with potentially life-changing injuries—to satisfy just one of the criteria to install a speed camera. This means that at least three families need to have their lives changed forever before a preventive measure can be implemented.

Between 2017 and 2021, nearly 700 collisions were reported on roads in my constituency. Fifteen of those were on Liley Lane running through the middle of Lepton. According to the current list of speed cameras provided by West Yorkshire safety camera partnership, there are no fixed cameras covering that road. There were also 13 reported collisions on Huddersfield Road, running through Shelley and Skelmanthorpe. There are cameras on nearby roads, but apparently none covering the road itself.

The local community continues to highlight concerns to me regarding those roads. According to the local safety camera partnership,

“community concerns are one factor which may result in the use of a camera provided there is evidence of a collision history and/or traffic survey revealing speed limit violations meeting the required threshold. Local authorities will apply the criteria to determine whether the use of either fixed or mobile cameras is justified.”

Prevention is better than cure, so what is being done to support that?

As it stands, the 2007 circular appears keen to involve local communities concerned by the effect of high-speed driving in their area. However, in the guidance and on the partnership and local authority websites, there is no structured, signposted point of contact for communities to reach out to, so complaints are consequently being made to local councillors, the police and local MPs.

The creation of standardised points of contact, for local residents across the UK to highlight where speed cameras would be useful, would be a crucial step in ensuring our constituents are heard and kept safe. Rural communities notice and are most affected by speeding motorists, so it is vital that we create and implement an effective and straightforward channel they can use to encourage change.

I have therefore worked closely with community groups and village associations to understand and highlight the impact of dangerous driving in their area. Alongside highlighting the concerns of Shepley village association at Prime Minister’s questions last year, I have supported the campaigns of residents in Briestfield in Dewsbury and Upper Hopton in Mirfield to tackle speeding in their area by reducing the speed limit. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my team and the local councillors, who work hard to respond to these concerns and can then support the development of a coherent approach for local residents to highlight the issues publicly.

I have raised this issue in the House on multiple occasions. In September 2021, I highlighted the need to change the guidance, with the Department for Transport promising a redrafted form of the 2007 circular by the end of the year. I appreciate that much has changed over the past two years, but it would be fantastic if we could complete the redraft and implement a 2023 circular.

Finally, I want to assure colleagues that this Bill seeks not to give local authorities the green light—for want of a better phrase—to install as many cameras as they can as part of a revenue-generating scheme, but to reassure our constituents that they will be listened to and supported in making their communities a safe place to live, walk, cycle and enjoy. Speeding traffic puts everyone at risk, whether they live in a built-up town or a more rural village. We want our roads to be safe for everyone, but too often we hear about accidents or near misses where speed was a key factor.

I am introducing this Bill to bring down the points threshold, with a requirement for fewer serious accidents within the timeframe, and to establish a pathway for communities to petition for cameras, so that we can make sure that action is taken sooner and lives are saved. I hope Members from across the House can agree that the continuous improvement of road safety is crucial to all our constituents, and I commend this Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.


That Mark Eastwood, Jonathan Gullis, James Daly, Nick Fletcher, Kim Leadbeater, Shaun Bailey, Jane Hunt, Scott Benton, Ben Everitt, Jason McCartney and Katherine Fletcher present the Bill.

Mark Eastwood accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 24 November, and to be printed (Bill 342).