Speed camera FoI victory for Whitchurch Herald

Trinity Mirror Cheshire has forced the release of information relating to speed cameras at a roadworks site which was kept secret to protect road workers.

Trinity asked how many drivers had been penalised by an "average speed camera" system installed at roadworks on the River Weaver viaduct on the M56, near Northwich.

They found that of the 100,000 motorists using the road each day, 5,215 were given fixed penalty notices during the 11-month works.

Whitchurch Herald editor Andrew Bowan first submitted the FoI request after waiting at the works in his car. But his request was refused because of health threats to workers at the site.

Cheshire Safety Camera Partnership said that if a low number of convictions was quoted in the press, drivers may increase their speed in the area without fear of prosecution, endangering workers.

Lee Murphy, project manager of the Partnership, refused the request, citing section 31 of the Act, which exempts data likely to prejudice detection of crime, and section 38, which exempts information if its disclosure could harm someone.

But Trinity won their case when they argued that, because the roadworks are now over but the cameras still in place, there were no longer workers there to protect.

Bowan said: "I just got fed up with being stuck in this queue, and there was never anyone working on the bridge – there aren't any workers to protect."

In a written response Murphy said: "The initial refusal to release information on the number of speeding tickets issued was made because drivers need to feel that cameras are working all of the time.

Balanced against this, releasing ticket numbers will reaffirm in the public's mind that enforcement is taking place and should in theory ensure they comply with the speed limit."

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