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Speed camera cuts 'risk lives'

Lives will be put at risk as a result of Government cuts to speed cameras, Britain's top traffic police officer has warned.

Chief Constable Mick Giannasi said he was trying to persuade ministers to protect the cameras "for the future of our road safety".

Casualties had almost halved over eight years thanks to speed cameras and the public had come to accept them, Mr Giannasi, who is chief constable of Gwent Police and leads on road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

According to a report in The Times, Mr Giannasi has written to ministers warning of a rise in fatal road accidents as councils switch off cameras because they can no longer afford to operate them.

Last month it emerged that Oxfordshire County Council was switching off all 72 of its fixed speed cameras as part of moves to save money, with other local authorities also considering similar action.

It comes after the Government cut £38 million from this year's road safety budget and ended central funding for speed cameras - a central plank of its promise to "end the war on the motorist".

But Mr Giannasi told Today: "The evidence is that road safety camera partnerships have achieved significant reductions in road casualties over the last decade - there are almost half the number of casualties now that there were eight years ago, and actually there is very clear evidence to show that the public accept them.

"We recognise that we have to save money, we recognise that road safety has to play its part in this, but these cuts in particular are a threat to the future sustainability of the system.

"So I'm working with the Government to persuade them that action needs to be taken to protect the system for the future of our road safety."

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said road safety would remain a priority for councils despite the cuts to speed cameras.

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