Crooks who trashed Lincolnshire’s speed cameras have run up a £1million-plus repair bill in just four years – and put lives at risk.
Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership say the level of vandalism – chiefly burnings – is one of the highest in the country.
Four cameras, including one on Spalding’s A16 bypass, have been trashed this year and repairs will cost more than £100,000.
John Siddle, spokesman for Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, says the county has seen a 42 per cent drop in killed or seriously injured collisions since the cameras were launched in 2000.
He said: “Ten to 14 years ago, over 100 people died on our roads every year – we are down in the thirties now.”
The county’s 51 cameras are placed in spots where death or injury has occurred and Mr Siddle says to have any out of action means lives are being put at risk.
It also means the cameras generate less cash to fund road safety measures such as courses for at risk motorists, including young car drivers.
Mr Siddle says the cameras are mostly targeted by people trying to hide criminal behaviour or escape a speeding conviction.
Last year, a lorry driver paid another man £80 to burn a camera at Hemswell Cliff, near Gainsborough – and both ended up in jail.
Mr Siddle said: “The guy who burned the camera had got a record for various things, but the lorry driver himself was absolutely clean. From a personal point of view, I feel very sad that the lorry driver took that decision and literally ruined himself. He will carry that conviction for every job he goes for.”
A man has already been charged with one of this year’s camera attacks and two more are being investigated – one for damage to the Spalding camera.
Mr Siddle said: “Out of four burnings, we have got three people to look at. We are very happy with that. The money for the cameras doesn’t come from the taxpayers – it comes from the speeders.”
He said the Spalding camera was placed to slow A16 vehicles heading towards standing traffic queuing at the roundabout and, while it is out of action, drivers won’t have that reminder to brake.
Speeding remains at epidemic levels, despite its direct links to crashes causing death and life-changing injuries, and between 1,000 and 1,200 people caught on camera or by police attend speed awareness courses in Lincolnshire every month. Some are caught out of county and opt to do the course here.
Drivers travelling within a certain level above the speed limit get a choice of a £100 fine and three points on their licence – or pay £90 and escape the points to go on a speed awareness course.
Out of the £90, £35 goes to the police – and £55 (up to £66,000 a month) to fund road safety measures.