Newspapers lock horns in speed camera row

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Two national newspapers, The Sun and the Guardian, have gone head-to-head in a row over guidelines relating to how speed cameras can be used.

Using the slogan ‘Come clean on cameras’, The Sun has called for guidelines on the use of speed cameras to be reinstated after claiming they have been “quietly scrapped by the government”.

The Sun says that under previous DfT guidelines cameras had to be yellow and clearly visible, but this requirement was phased out following a review in 2013.

A DfT spokesperson told The Sun it is now up to Highways England and local police to decide how  to deploy cameras. Edmund King, president of the AA, said “changing policy without telling drivers is unacceptable”.

Rob Gill, the Sun’s motoring editor, said: “This is the last straw – the Gatso Gestapo has gone too far.

“It was bad enough speeding motorists were being caught out by cameras hidden in horseboxes and tractors. Now we learn Government guidelines to prevent such sly tactics were canned.

“That’s why The Sun is today standing up for Britain’s drivers and calling for cameras to be clearly visible and not hidden by devious means such as behind trees, bushes, bends… or in tractors.

“Speed cameras were supposed to make our roads safer, to slow us down at an accident blackspot, to stop our children getting killed — not make money from us.”

In response, the Guardian says The Sun’s campaign against speed cameras is “encouraging dangerous behaviour that blights communities and kills”, and describes speeding drivers as “criminals”.

Peter Walker, author of the Guardian article, said: “Let’s just imagine a national newspaper ran a front-page campaign demanding that young people were given a few hours’ warning before police carried out searches for knives, giving them time to hide the weapons. The outrage would be universal.

“And yet The Sun, has devoted its front page to the fate of another category of people whose offences are provably dangerous, asking why the police try to ‘snare’ them through ‘hidden means’. But this is a special category of criminals: speeding drivers.”

The Guardian report points to Government data that lists breaking the speed limit as a factor in almost 220 road deaths a year, stating that The Sun has presented deaths caused by speeding as ‘normalised’ and ‘just one of those things’.

Peter Walker adds: “There is, of course, an argument that visible speed cameras are a better deterrent than stealth. But with its talk of ‘Gatso Gestapo’ the Sun is going way beyond this. The problem is they are completely wrong and there are reams of research showing this.

“None of this is to say cars are not vital for many people. I’m not anti-car. But I am, completely and unapologetically, anti-speeding.

“It’s a selfish choice. When you speed, you put yourself in more danger, any loved ones in your car in more danger, and other people on the road in more danger. If you get caught it’s your own fault. Stop whining.”

26 October 2015

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