FOI request detail

Speed cameras

Request ID: FOI-1783-2122
Date published: 02 December 2021

You asked

• On St Helier Avenue, between January and July this year (2021) • How many speed cameras were in operation and where? • How many fines were issued by each camera, on a monthly basis? • Were any speed cameras out of action? If so, when was this detected?

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-1783-2122
Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 10 November 2021, asking for information about speed cameras.
Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and our information access policy.  I can confirm we hold some of the information you have requested.
All safety cameras in London are active except for sites undergoing modernisation and installation, or those that require work to be carried out due to faults. TfL expects the entire safety camera network to be available for enforcement by the Police, and cameras are constantly being fixed and brought back into action.
However, in accordance with the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply you with information on the operational status of speed cameras or the number of cameras out of action. This is subject to a statutory exemptions to the right of access to information under Section 38(1)(b); Health and Safety – endangerment to the safety of any individual, and Section 31(1)(a) Law Enforcement which relates to all aspects of the prevention and detection of crime.

Section 38 exemption is applied to all requests safety camera performance as disclosure of the information requested would be likely to adversely affect the safety and security of motorists, pedestrians and other road users. The purpose of safety camera enforcement is to deter motorists from breaking the law and travelling at speeds in excess of the stated limit. Speed compliance relies on this deterrent effect.
Section 31 exemption has been applied as provision of this information would confirm whether it’s likely that restrictions will be enforced as well as identify where the enforcement is in operation. The purpose of enforcement is to deter drivers from contravening restrictions so is focused on those areas of greatest risk, where compliance is low and where other traffic management initiatives have been unsuccessful. Disclosing information which reveals the activation status of safety cameras as well as the likelihood of enforcement would lead to a decrease in compliance with traffic restrictions at those locations and therefore increase unlawful driving.

When considering the prejudice test and taking into account any harm likely to arise if the requested information were put together with other information already published into the public domain (commonly known as the ‘mosaic effect’) we believe that by continuing to publish locations of cameras or sites that are undergoing maintenance or replacement, in effect, enable others to build up a database of enforcement camera functionality as well as attempt to predict when cameras may or may not be operational. Were there to be a perception that some camera sites were not operating, whether or not that perception is misguided, the likely result is that there would be an increase in dangerous and unlawful driving through those areas. Thousands of casualties are reported each year, both fatal and injured, with excess speed being determined as a major contributory factor. Inappropriate speed also magnifies other driver errors, such as driving too close or driving when tired or distracted, increasing the chances of these types of behaviour causing a collision.
Disclosure of this information to you has to be regarded as a disclosure to ‘the public at large’. Whilst we make no suggestion that you would use the information for anything other than your own personal interest, we consider that the likelihood of prejudice is particularly high because there is a separate and well-established network of information available online which deliberately seeks to undermine legitimate enforcement of this nature. Therefore, given the significant concerns we have that provision of this information would be likely to endanger the public, we consider the exemption to be engaged.
The use of these exemptions is subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned. We recognise the need for openness and transparency by public authorities, but in this instance feel that balance lies in favour of withholding the information to ensure that we’re able to continue to comply with our Network Management Duty and ensuring the safety of all road users. There remains a very strong public interest in maintaining the effectiveness of speeding prevention measures and the subsequent safety benefits they bring. Protecting the overall deterrent effect in relation to speed cameras is paramount to ensuring maximum compliance which, in turn, helps to continue the reduction in road collisions that lead to injury and/or fatal outcomes. We therefore conclude that the overwhelming public interest falls in favour of maintaining the exemptions.

We don’t hold information on point 2 of your request as it is the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) who issue speeding fines not TfL.
Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.
Yours sincerely
Eva Hextall
FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

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