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New cameras spot traffic offences
Drivers making banned turns or illegally using yellow-box junctions are liable to be caught out by remote cameras in a pioneering initiative by a borough council.
The first unattended CCTV enforcement system for moving traffic offences has been introduced by Redbridge council in east London.
The council said the scheme was working well, with "serious traffic contraventions" captured.
In use at four locations, the system has been designed by the Videalert company and can also catch drivers ignoring restricted access signs.
According to the company, its system combines video analytics and ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) detection to "capture more offences than can be achieved by traditional legacy solutions and will deliver a higher return on investment and compliance whilst increasing road safety wherever it is deployed".
It has been installed using an innovative capital expenditure neutral model, whereby all costs are recovered through the issuing of penalty charge notices (PCNs).
It automates the detection and capture of the moving traffic offences and provides efficient post review and validation processing of the evidence data before automatic posting to the back office system that issues the PCNs.
Redbridge council's environment, transportation and crime committee head, Shoaib Patel, said: "The system was installed to counter the high number of drivers that were ignoring the traffic restrictions that were in place, causing severe safety hazards to pedestrians and other drivers.
"The system is working well and we have captured a number of vehicles committing serious traffic contraventions, which is promising."
Motoring groups have worries about the new system.
AA president Edmund King said: "We are concerned that this automated system is more about harvesting motorists for money and profit than deterring bad driver behaviour.
"There needs to be the safeguard that, if this system starts fining drivers on an industrial scale, an analysis of the problem junctions takes place. The ticket haul may be partly down to the road layout.
"There is also the added concern that, if signing is inadequate, local drivers may learn to be wary but outsiders may be caught time after time for mistakes, minor infringements or circumstances outside their control, such as making way for emergency vehicles."
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: "It is very worrying to hear mention of a phrase like 'will deliver a higher return on investment' in association with a new type of moving traffic offence enforcement camera as it automatically makes you think the council is investing to make money rather than to change driver behaviour.
"Common sense needs to be applied with a new system like this to avoid creating a situation similar to Clapham's 'money box junction' (in south London) where a camera has been positioned in a place where there are clearly issues with the design and layout of the road which leads to motorists repeatedly being caught out.
"If drivers are blatantly ignoring signage, then something needs to be done, but fairness should be key in the use of cameras like these.
"It is encouraging, however, to hear that footage will be reviewed before penalty charge notices are issued as this will hopefully prevent some accidental driver errors being unfairly penalised."