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Correspondence with Richard Brunstrom
Richard Brunstrom is chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Road Safety Committee and also Chief Constable of North Wales.

He is one of the UK's leading proponents of speed cameras.


 
Introduction

I felt that I had to write to ask if Mr Brunstrom had any evidence or science to support his views about speed cameras. I first sent him an email in January 2003 but had no response. So I tried a letter. I've reproduced below my letter, a wholly inadequate reply and my follow up letter.

Will he be able to provide a substantial reply? We shall see.

Letters added 30th May 2003

new Still no reply to our letter of 30th May as of 31st July 2003. 

But the Daily Mail has this to say about Brunstrom: (click here)

And there are rows in North Wales: (click here) and (click here)

And see below for a breathtaking article from the Sun Newspaper from 2001.

The following sent by post on SafeSpeed letterhead:
 
 
6th May 2003
Mr Richard Brunstrom
Association of Chief Police Officers
25, Victoria Street
London SW1H 0EX

Dear Mr Brunstrom,

I emailed you in January but received no reply.

There are speed cameras being rolled out everywhere we look, but I can find no evidence whatsoever that the speed cameras have saved lives, will save lives, or even might save lives. In fact I find quite the opposite. Our fatal accident rate is showing a very worrying trend indeed.

I've examined TRL 323, which has "excessive speed" as a definite contributory factor as 6.0% of the population of contributory factors.

I've looked for other sources of accident causation data in the UK and found the West Midlands Accident Review, which makes speed a very minor factor indeed in accident causation.

Where speed is a contributory factor it is often combined with another factor which makes speed enforcement irrelevant, including for example, reckless driving, unregistered or stolen vehicle, drunk driving, Police driver on call, and especially inappropriate speed within the speed limit. One wonders if there are any excess speed accidents left that could be assigned to normal motorists exceeding a posted speed limit. 

I've examined TRL 421 and TRL 511, which are not worth the paper they are written on. In fact they are blatant, non-scientific propaganda, and I am extremely ashamed of the TRL. I have written to them pointing out some of the serious shortcomings in the reports and have yet to receive a reply. I could supply copies of correspondence if you were interested.

I've examined the web sites of the so called safety camera partnerships and I find hopelessly inadequate statistics, which never allow for the "regression to the mean" errors or national trends. When these errors are corrected the claimed "benefits" simply vanish.

I've spoken to Police accident investigators who tell me that driver errors other than exceeding the speed limit are responsible for the vast majority of road accidents.

I've examined the DfT report prepared by PA Consulting about the completion of the two year pilot of the netting off scheme. In it I didn't find a single fatal accident statistic. Why is that? I also found transparent obfuscation and deliberate deflection about the vital regression to the mean issue.

So my question for you is: What evidence do you have that these speed cameras (and the policies which support them) even might save lives? Any real evidence at all would be welcome.

I maintain a serious web site, which derides speed enforcement as a central plank of road safety policy, but the web site is operated with a very high degree of integrity, and I would be delighted to publish anything at all that you might have to support present policy. If you visit, you will find a "statistics challenge" on the first page which promises to publish prominently anything at all that supports the alternative case.

Please tell me that you have some clear scientific basis for your support of our dangerous road safety policy.

Yours sincerely
 
 
 

Paul Smith

 The following sent by post on SafeSpeed letterhead:
 
 
20th May 2003
Mr Richard Brunstrom 
Chief Constable's Office
Glan y Don
Colwyn Bay
LL29 8AW
 

Dear Mr Brunstrom,

I  refer to my letter of the 6th May addressed to you as head of the ACPO road safety committee, and a reply from Sgt. Alan Jones dated 19th May.

Sgt. Jones reply does not address the primary question in my original letter, which was:

“What evidence do you have that these speed cameras (and the policies which support them) even might save lives? Any real evidence at all would be welcome.

Sgt. Jones replies that your views are “widely known” and I agree that they are.

But it is not your view that I need to understand. I want to hear exactly what evidence you rely on to support those views. 

I ask this question because I can find no real supporting evidence, and the policies are of great importance to British people.

Yours sincerely
 
 
 
 

Paul Smith

 

30th May 2003
Mr Richard Brunstrom 
Chief Constable's Office
Glan y Don
Colwyn Bay
LL29 8AW
 

Dear Mr Brunstrom,

I  refer you to my original letter of the 6th May addressed to you as head of the ACPO road safety committee, and a further reply from Sgt. Alan Jones dated 29th May.

Sgt. Jones second reply still does not address the primary question in my original letter, which was:

 “What evidence do you have that these speed cameras (and the policies which support them) even might save lives? Any real evidence at all would be welcome.”

I do not believe you have an adequate answer to my question, and I notice that Sgt. Jones specifically avoids confirming that speed cameras save lives.

Perhaps you do not believe that speed cameras do save lives? If they do not, do you think they are responsible for extra deaths? How many deaths? What exact evidence do you have? Where can I examine it?

Sgt Jones declines to enter into further correspondence, so I assume that you will be dealing with this important matter personally. 

I have published our correspondence to the Internet at http://www.safespeed.org.uk/brunstrom.html. [this page]

I look forward to a substantial reply.

Yours sincerely
 
 
 
 

Paul Smith
 

Camera boss: 'I break limit'

By TIM SPANTON

RICHARD BRUNSTROM is a typical sort of driver.

He reckons motorways were designed to handle cars doing 80 mph and cheerfully admits to breaking the speed limit when he feels it is safe to do so.

There is just one snag. Richard Brunstrom is the Chief Constable in charge of Britain's speed cameras.

And as head of the Association of Chief Police Officers' technology committee, he wants to see a trebling of cameras on our roads.

The Chief Constable of North Wales told Radio 5: "I still speed on occasions but increasingly I am ashamed of myself. I ought to be showing leadership and practise what I am preaching."

He added: "I would be a laughing stock if I were to pretend that nobody in the police service ever broke the speed limit."

Nigel Humphries, of the Association of British Drivers, said last night: "He is a speed camera tyrant leading the persecution of ordinary motorists while believing the law doesn't apply to him."

"It is absolutely breathtaking hypocrisy."

Brunstrom, 46, was "unavailable" to answer questions yesterday but issued this statement: "Every motorist is guilty of driving too fast from time to time and I'm no different. We need to make every effort to eradicate speed in this country.

"The only way of doing so is by making it an anti-social problem. By introducing more cameras."

Two weeks ago Brunstrom boasted how new legislation allowing police forces to keep profits from speed camera fines would lead to "at least a tripling in the numbers on Britain's roads."

ABD chairman Brian Gregory said: "There are around 30 million drivers in Britain and the police are out to get every single one of us."

(c) The Sun TUESDAY, 26 JUNE, 2001

Let's make speed cameras as unacceptable as drink driving

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Copyright © SafeSpeed 2003
Created 20/05/2003. Last update 31/07/2003
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