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Privatisation of Mobile Speed Cameras

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Whilst there are some arguments that hold up when it comes to the privatisation of certain government services. The fundamental basis is that in so doing it transfers from the service of the community to the generating of profits.

This is no more clearly illustrated than by the privatisation of speed enforcement by the use of privately operated mobile speed cameras. When it was first introduced it simply became a matter of time befor restrictions and requirements for warning and signage of the vehicles would be removed. After all the organisation given the contract was not shy about making a profit. The government was merely lulling us into a false sense of security that it would be high visibility with the emphasis that if you see them you will slow down and hence enhance safety in potential black spots.

The basis of high visibility policing is to ensure people slow down and on seeing a police vehicle or approaching an intersection served by a fixed speed camera at a black spot one does. What is the point of hiding speed cameras and if one is exceeding the speed limit getting something in the mail much later. If speed is dangerous isn’t it imperative to get the driver/rider to slow down immediately? The other issue with getting something weeks later is that it may be hard to address the issue. If you are pulled over you can immediately recall the event and determine the legitimacy or otherwise of the officer’s allegations.

The other difficulty with public policing versus private policing is that if pulled over by a police officer there is a discretion that can be exercised and the officer will make a determination about whether or not to issue a ticket or whether it is for a lesser speed, in the public interest, that does not exist in the private policing scenario where it is motivated by the generation of profit. Police are also required to be accountable as public sector employees, a responsibility which would go up the chain to the Commissioner and ultimately the responsible minister. When the private sector is involved as one sees with private correctional facilities the Minister can pass the buck by saying they do not control, neither are they responsible for the administration of the issue in question.

So after a very public outcry due to the disappearance of signage, a lowering of the speed tolerances and record revenue being raised for the drivers being slugged with fines for under 10 over the speed limit there is a review. The Government in August 2021 introduced fixed signs warning of mobile speed camera use in an area but not the ones before and after the mobile speed camera vehicle. 

The inquiry that was recently undertaken has heard from former NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay who believes the removal of warning signs near mobile speed cameras was the wrong decision and that the signs encouraged safer driver behaviour. The inquiry was looking into recent program changes, including increased enforcement hours, reduced high visibility livery on vehicles and removing warning signs.


Update: A slight amendment has now been made where it was agreed signs be installed/shown on top of mobile speed camera vehicles.


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