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Speed cameras: Police seek to offload costly work

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Police want to hand the nation's speed camera network over to the New Zealand Transport Agency, because of rising costs and the belief it doesn't align with core police work.

The road safety partnership, which includes the police, the Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport, is discussing the proposal, while also working on a new automated system which would replace the creaking Police Infringement Processing System.

In 2018, static and mobile cameras snapped nearly a million cars speeding - more than 2600 each day.

That figure was up more than 50 per cent on the previous year, and the increase in speed camera usage is causing a serious strain on the infringement system.

Since 2016, the police have been warning government ministers the current system is unsustainable, and with the planned increase in speed camera use, it isn't fit for purpose.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show running the strained PIPS is putting pressure on road police operations.

In one document, detailed in emails from the Ministry of Transport, it says: "Police have proposed transferring safety camera management and operations to the Transport Agency because of financial pressures, and because this function does not align with core police functions and capability."

Further documents state the processing costs from the expanded camera network, and the need to re-develop the infringement processing system, are key reasons behind the proposal.

Brent Johnston, manager of mobility and safety at the Ministry of Transport, says the ministry is working closely with police and the Transport Agency on the proposal.

"The possibility of moving responsibility for the safety camera network from police to the Transport Agency is being considered by the road safety partnership.

"The ministry has not yet formed a final opinion on the merits of moving responsibility for the safety camera network to the Transport Agency.

"Work on this subject has been exploratory in nature and inter-agency discussions are ongoing."

Current speed camera system can't cope with increased workload

In a briefing prepared by police and the Transport Agency last July, and sent to Police Minister Stuart Nash and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter, the organisations said the PIPS does not have the capacity to cope with increasing volume.

The report said the system is being supported at a significant and ongoing cost to the police, and there is a risk the system will crash and cease to operate.

In January, the police called for tenders for developing a new Automated Compliance and Intervention Management project, which would replace the PIPS.

They have been working on the new system with the other members of the road safety partnership.

Automobile Association general manager of motoring policy Mike Noon backed the police in their desire to transfer the speed camera network to the Transport Agency.

"When we think about the road infrastructure, putting in a camera system in parts of the infrastructure is part of the roading infrastructure," says Mike.

"That should be the responsibility, and priced and budgeted when we're doing those roads, so it makes sense for the NZTA to do that.

"It's not enforcement. It shouldn't be done by the police.

"The actual processing of the tickets themselves, again, that's just an administrative process. It shouldn't be necessary for the police to do that."

Mike says the police should be freed up to do actual police work.

"What we really like to see is we like to see the police out on the roads, visible.

"We know that if the police cars are out there and the police are doing their work where there are road safety issues, we know that calms the traffic, and it's great for road safety."

Police and the Transport Agency did not want to comment on the camera network negotiations.

Julie-Anne says if a recommendation is made to transfer the network to the NZTA, ministers will consider that in due course.

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5 Comments
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Covert speed catching

Posted on 28-05-2019 13:44 | By red

Speed cameras need to be more visible in NZ, painted a bright colour... the whole point is to make vehicles slow down in problem areas (villages/schools etc). Working covertly to catch speeders does nothing for road safety, it just collects revenue!

AND watch the fun

Posted on 25-05-2019 20:55 | By The Caveman

When the Speed Camera operators are paid on COMMISSION - the bigger the FINE COLLECTION the BIGGER the COMMISSION - TOTALLY NOTHING TO DO WITH ROAD SAFTEY - JUST FINES REVENUE

Congrats

Posted on 25-05-2019 08:37 | By

UK has thousands more cameras and 20 times the population but they “only” issue less than 2m tickets. Kiwis are punching well above their weight. Well done.

revenue collecting

Posted on 24-05-2019 13:13 | By hapukafin

No wonder the number of speed cameras are increasing,there is costs to recover.Handing it over to another agency means that they will want to make a profit so more cameras and higher fines will apply

common sense

Posted on 24-05-2019 12:40 | By Lvdw

Is it not just common sense that the NZTA would handle this? Does this not form part and parcel of the NZTA roading coverage? NZTA can then make themselves LOTS of money and make the roads safer at the same time - win win in my opinion.