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UK Road Sense, Dorset Way / A3049 50 limit

Martyn Underhill extends cover up over speed camera dishonesty

There was a follow up on Radio Solent: 144.aspx   

My full overview of this case so far is here: http://www.dorsetspeed.org.uk/2014/ It sets out as briefly as possible the full explanation of some of what has happened, the appalling, dangerous, widespread money making scandal the speed industry has become and how it sustains itself. Links are provided to full evidence behind the analysis to the full depth. Although I have repeatedly urged Mr Underhill to read this, he said he has looked at my website, it contains serious allegations against Dorset Police and a large number of other authorities, neither he nor anyone else has challenged, denied or responded to a single point on it.

On July the 24th 2014 I received the Hampshire Police report and met with Martyn Underhill, James Vaughan (Deputy Chief) and Nicky Searle (Chief Superintendent in charge of operations including traffic) Some debate was allowed but time and time again when I was starting to drive home the crucial issues it was either “not directly relevant to the complaint specification” or we had to “move on” or it would be “dealt with later” but it was not.

It became clear that Mr Underhill had already made his decision, based only on the report from Hampshire, and even released it, without even having allowed me the opportunity to see the report, let alone allowed me to review and comment on it. http://www.dorset.pcc.police.uk/News-and-Events/News-Archive/2014/July-2014/Dorset-PCC-To-Review-Driver-Awareness-Scheme.aspx

Interestingly, “I welcome this investigation report which has concluded that Dorset Police did not mislead the public over improvements made to road safety or the costs and revenue..”. So when the news is good, it’s about Dorset Police, but when I tried to challenge, I was constantly told “this has nothing to do with Dorset Police. Only Martin Baker.”

How can this be the correct way to handle the case? As I will show, this was foolish and unprofessional, and indicative of the aim to just try to make this problem go away rather than deal with it properly.

Mr Underhill should have read some of the simple evidence I provided, the simple questions I have been asking for 3 years (which we STILL don’t have the answer to!), considered the original complaint upheld by the IPCC, and sought to properly deal with the issues. Instead, the complaint was narrowed down to be purely against the then Chief Constable, and this complaint specification appears to have been used to try to shield Martin Baker and Dorset Police from the issues.

Even so, it became clear, that both of the primary issues of the narrowed complaint had been dodged (badly). This is simple, I don’t need 400 pages. As I was concerned that clearly a chief constable could be remote from some of goes on in a force, I did at least get Colin Smith to agree that “misleading” included “knowingly allow misleading” The 2 issues were:

1.       misleading regarding the benefits to safety of speed cameras

2.       misleading regarding the finances

The Speed on Green enforcement provides an example of (1). The press release clearly states that the operation was to contribute to a target of a 40% KSI reduction, targeting “extremely dangerous” driving and preventing collisions: http://dorsetroadsafe.org.uk/index2.php?option=com_content&task=emailform&id=297&itemid=84

When the facts that the profits coming from the operation (£1 million a year), and the fact that the site had a ZERO ksi history, and even ZERO slights for the previous 4 years, were eventually forced out of Dorset Police, they quite incredibly changed their mind, and said it was a “community concern site”: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/185580/Outrage-at-speed-camera-that-rakes-in-1-3m-a-year-on-safe-road

However, this was a lie too, as they were completely unable to quantify any concern relevant to the site at the time despite 2 FOI requests from me. They shut the site down I suspect because they had been found out, but I was told this was just due to money saving! (another lie)

This was highly controversial at the time. If Martin Baker was not aware of this, he must have been turning a blind eye to it. The lies I mentioned above came from Johnny Stephens, and Pat Garrett. They were senior members of the DSCP, I believe that they were members of Dorset Police and that therefore Martin Baker was ultimately responsible for their conduct.

Regardless of Hampshire’s report, Martin Baker has allowed misleading information about the benefit of a speed enforcement to be published, in the press release for the Speed on Green camera.

On point 2: Dorset police have fought for 3 years and have still not answered the question “why does it need the equivalent of 10 staff on 52K to deliver a simple course to 40 people?” (see the overview for more information). Although the report gives some additional information about other years, and gives some deeper detail about costs as they are today, it STILL does not answer this question. The only reason I can conclude is that the top level costs I was given in the FOI response that came after the Information Commissioner told Dorset Police that they could not simply avoid the question by ignoring it, is that those costs were made up, and quite possibly exaggerated in order to hide the profit. In fact, it came through in the meeting that at least one of the costs I had been given was wrong, and in the report “costs are significantly below those quoted on the complainants website”. However, this was not investigated, the assumption was made that I had provided an incorrect number, even when I had copied to Colin Smith the exact text of the FOI response I had received!!! This begs the question, how much more of what I have provided to the case has not even been looked at??

How can even just this not amount to misleading / dishonesty about the finances?

So the 400 page report and its conclusion are simply the next step in the cover-up attempt, I kind of thought that might happen.

It also became apparent during the meeting that was little understanding amongst the three of simple fundamental knowledge about road safety, such as that there are only about 7% of KSI accidents that even have speeding as one of potentially several factors, or that it is also misleading to state that an observed reduction is an “achievement” of Dorset Police. 

There were some rather more alarming moments, such as, when I pointed out that the Speed on Green (which made Dorset Police a £ million on the back of a pack of lies) must amount to obtaining money by deception, which is fraud, Martyn Underhill did not deny it or take any interest in it but said it was nothing to do with Dorset Police and only Poole Council. Clearly this money would not have been made without the involvement of Dorset Police. It’s a bit like saying the getaway driver didn’t steal the jewellery. Even after everything I have seen I was dumbstruck that such an attitude could come from someone whose primary purpose is to make the police accountable and efficient to the public.

And all this as Dorset Police claims to have signed up to a new “code of ethics”: http://www.dorset.police.uk/default.aspx?page=7583

As I said at the top of the overview, the further this goes the worse it gets. We have with this report and Mr Underhill’s acceptance of it gone down to a new level.

The Hampshire investigation

The upholding of my complaint by the IPCC against Dorset Police coincided with Mr Underhill starting as PCC for Dorset. He decided the best way to progress the case was to get another force to investigate it. Although the overview above has grown and evolved while this case has progressed over recent years, all of the very serious concerns in the current overview were clear at that time, and I expected (perhaps naively) that whatever happened, a professional investigation would answer the concerns. During initial discussion with Colin Smith (Head of Professional Standards, Hampshire Police), I was guided towards a process which only dealt with the then Chief, Martin Baker. Although I was uncomfortable with this as the issues were widespread in Dorset Police and other authorities, I agreed to it as:

-          It was clear that that would be all I would get

-          I was reassured that “misleading” would include “knowingly allowing misleading”

-          I was told that the simple question I had about finances would be answered (it was not)

-          I was told that the investigation would seek out  poor ethical behaviour (it did not)

-          I was told that the investigation would answer my allegations of fraud in Dorset Police, it did not: http://www.dorsetspeed.org.uk/2014/19Jan2013.pdf

What happened was that Hampshire produced a vast rambling report full of huge amounts of information not relevant to the core issues, while it has carefully avoided dealing with any of the primary points. This is demonstrated perfectly by the fact that the crucial question “why does it need the equivalent of 10 staff on £52k to deliver a simple course to 40 people” incredibly, still, remains unanswered.

Also, “why does Dorset Police claim 3 times the going rate for course premises”.

I clearly remember Colin Smith saying in our first meeting that he could see why I was asking those questions as the numbers simply did not stack up. This was during the process of agreeing the terms on the complaint. How could he possibly then have concluded the case without answering that concern?? But although we now have pages of figures on expenses over many years, he has failed to comment any further about this (this is typical of the rest of the report). This inconsistency alone provides the “smoking gun” that Colin Smith knew that there was a problem but chose, or perhaps was encouraged, to sweep it under the carpet. He has chosen to ignore perhaps the crucial point that would have started to unlock the entire truth. This is the second point indicating that Colin Smith has favoured Dorset Police in this investigation. Martyn Underhill, who is claiming poverty for Dorset Police, seems quite content to ignore this question about the kinds of spend which would send any private business into receivership in no time. How much other waste / misrepresentation / improper spend goes on in Dorset Police?

I knew the question about finances would get to the heart of this scandal, and it most certainly has. Could quite as much effort, time, and resource, possibly, ever have been consumed before in the avoidance of providing such a simple answer to such a simple question? How much of Dorset Polices’ precious money could have been saved if they just answered the question? Why is no one concerned about what they are blatantly trying to hide?

In the case review with Hampshire at Christmas, Colin Smith started to indicate he could not find anything wrong, while progress on the key points seemed non-existent. I wrote to him, and copied Mr Underhill, as follows:

Dear Colin, Sally,

Thanks for meeting with me yesterday. Having had a little time to reflect I feel I should list some concerns with the way this complaint is progressing:


1.     You should remember that I was concerned from the start that with the complaint against Martin Baker only and with many of the issues more generally within Dorset Police, it might be difficult to directly link the issues to Martin Baker. You reassured me that “misrepresenting” included “knowingly allowing misrepresentation”, as it rightly should as MB must take ultimate responsibility for what happened in his force while he was Chief. It must also include failing to act once that misrepresentation has taken place, or covering up / ignoring issues of integrity / misrepresentation, particularly when they are plainly brought to his attention.


2.     Quite apart from the actual issues I have raised one of the items in the Code of Conduct is “1.13  Police officers act with integrity and are open and truthful in their dealings with the public and their colleagues, so that confidence in the police service is secured and maintained.” If Martin Baker has shown lack of integrity either directly or by failing to run his force properly, he has failed to meet the Code of Conduct which is a matter of misconduct and this complaint must conclude as such.


3.     Despite the large number of issues I have raised over many years I carefully selected 2 short documents for you to look at when we first met. One was the original complaint, that has been put to Dorset Police in as many ways as possible but has been totally ignored and none of the issues answered: http://www.dorsetspeed.org.uk/news/sog102.aspx . Another was a later short summary linking the facts and observations to the conclusion that all the indications of fraud are clearly evident : http://www.dorsetspeed.org.uk/ico/19Jan2013.pdf For information I also gave you a printout of the Information case so far: http://www.dorsetspeed.org.uk/ico/ico.aspx   Unfortunately I got the impression during the meeting yesterday this relatively small amount of information has not been taken very seriously now also by the IPCC process.


4.     The original complaint doc gives examples of both of the failures described in the allegations of this complaint. Dorset Police have had every possible opportunity to deal with these allegations but have dodged them. I have put these issues directly to MB and he has ignored them (I can provide copies of communications if you require). MB must therefore now be held responsible for these failures:


5.     misrepresentation of “improvements in safety associated with the location and operation of fixed and mobile cameras in Dorset” This is fully explained in the original complaint under “Adverse effects” and “Performance of Dorset Road Safe in reducing killed and seriously injured counts.” It is true that it is difficult to find much misrepresentation as Dorset Police / Road Safe do not seem to try very hard to claim safety benefit (another failure I will comment on later). But Dorset Road Safe clearly claims to be a safety organisation and the public will trust that it is doing its best to save life and it simply is not, it is clearly more concerned with staying alive itself in the face of public spending cuts and when trust is placed in something that doesn’t work only danger results. As DP, DRS, and MB have completely avoided the issues this complaint against MB must deal with them.


6.     misrepresentation of “improvements in safety and the costs/revenue associated with the operation of the Dorset Driver Awareness Course.” This is explained under “Financial Integrity” in the original complaint doc. Even if by some miracle some justifiable explanation comes for the ridiculous costs claimed, the very way in which the FOI system has been abused (initially by refusing even to respond, then by lying that it would cost too much to explain the costs, and then, only when everything else had failed about a year later, declaring me vexatious in order to avoid providing the answers that could only be damaging) is clearly a serious failure of integrity / honesty / transparency in itself. I also remind you that the primary (and self-evidently entirely reasonable) question I have trying to have answered is “why does it need the equivalent of 10 staff on £52K to deliver a course to 40 people?”.  When we met the first time Colin you took one glance at that question and agreed in an instant that it should be answered, and I was very disappointed that you did not have the answer yesterday. The other clearly questionable costs are in the complaint doc.


7.     It is a complete failure of competence / integrity that the information I have been requested is not actively published by DP / DRS, such as: recognition of the financial motivations and demonstration that they are under control, a proper safety case properly stating and accounting for the risks, explaining and estimating the anticipated safety benefit and demonstrating that the chosen solutions provide the best safety benefit / cost, and most certainly, full transparency of finances, provision of a proper complaints process, etc. If this diligence has taken place then the information should be available and should be published, the only result could be improved public confidence. Its absence therefore indicates that this work has not been carried out, any interfering with traffic is potentially dangerous and failure to work with a credible and comprehensive safety plan is against the fundamental requirements for professional safety work.


8.     I gave you an example of a camera set up purely to make loads of money, my original article on this is here: http://www.dorsetspeed.org.uk/news/sog.aspx Note that this includes the press release from DSCP, and that it starts “As part of the drive to meet the Government target of a 40% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road collisions by 2010, the Dorset Safety Camera Partnership (DSCP) will be starting to conduct speed enforcement at traffic light junctions from 1st July 2009.” It was clear that this was going to make loads of money, but DSCP refused to tell me how much. The information commissioner agreed they must release the information and you can see it here: http://www.dorsetroadsafe.org.uk/images/Documents/SiteStats2012-13/RedLightCams/RL%20A350%20Holes%20Bay%20RdPoole%20jw%20Sterte%20Road%201023%20Sbd.pdf Note that as well as the 20,000 nips raised in just over a year, (with many of those going on the course so raising well over a £million for Dorset Police), this also showed that there are ZERO ksis. My investigations had proved that the statement in the press release was a lie and the objective stated to the public was false. It could not have been about casualty reduction. DSCP were forced to change their story, they then said it was about “community concern”. I asked about this community concern again by FOI but they refused to quantify it, surely this was a lie too. If just this is not serious misrepresentation, failure of integrity, fraud, obtaining money by false pretences, perverting the course of justice, etc. then it is difficult to imagine what would be. The camera was shut down, clearly because it was attracting too much attention, but the only reason I could get was that it was a part of “cost cutting”!!!!! (If speed cameras save life, anyone closing a camera down that was making a £million to save money clearly needs to be fired and locked up for their own safety as well as that of everyone else – more likely, it was just yet more lies).


9.     In 8 above there is a perfect example of the motivation DP / DRS had to declare me vexatious to stop me from exposing their money making scams. How could Martin Baker not have known about all this and how could he not have been turning a blind eye to it? Driving at 35 on a 30 dual carriageway might be against the law but it is nothing compared to what DRS / DP and perhaps Poole Council were doing.


10.  In addition to the obvious money making effort mentioned in point 8 mobile cameras are also typically used where the speed limit is well below the natural safe road speed and detection volumes are high. The highest NIP count mobile location is on the A338, a perfectly good dual carriageway which had the limit reduced to 12 MPH below even the average speed (50) thereby “manufacturing” large numbers of “offences” – the inevitable result. This is where the motorcyclist died as a result of the presence of the mobile van cynically placed at the end of the 50 limit just before the 70. http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/9212760.Biker_s_fatal_crash_linked_to_speed_camera/  The A3049 Dorset Way has a similarly ludicrous limit where the council completely ignored all objections to the reduction and is the next highest on the NIP list. Here is where DRS use their long range speed camera to target driving at a speed entirely appropriate for the road type and again well below the measured average speed: http://www.dorsetspeed.org.uk/limits/50_2.GIF Mobile cameras are also used at some absurd 30 limit locations at or close to non-residential dual carriageways, such as the park and ride at Creekmoor and the Ryvita factory Tower Park. Mobile cameras are used to make money. As road safety tools, they cause more problems than they could ever possibly prevent. They cover 1% of road space and target only one of the factors in only 8% of ksis. Even if they eliminated speeding completely at their locations they could only reduce ksis by a proportion of 0.08%.


11.  You said when we met yesterday you had never heard of speed cameras replacing traffic cops but in reality this has happened and here is one article about it: http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/13/1394.asp This is one of the negative effects of speed cameras which offsets any supposed benefit. It is irresponsible for anyone to promote the use of speed cameras without properly understanding and balancing the risks, I have a list of evidence here: http://www.dorsetspeed.org.uk/news/neg.aspx Martin Baker and his force have not only failed to properly consider the risks, they have deliberately ignored them even when they have been presented to them. As explained in the complaint, this is a breach of duty of care and a further breach of integrity.


12.  In terms of road safety statistics, yes, we are in a period of long term KSI reduction. But during recent years, and the highest publicity of “no excuse”, large numbers of Dorset drivers being sent on courses and the lowest tolerance of speed enforcement, along with widespread absurd speed limit reductions, road deaths in Dorset have been on a steady increase, and have almost tripled over the “no excuse” period since 2010. It’s difficult to make any exact links but this can hardly be considered a great success and it must be remembered that while it is impossible to say that the operations of Dorset Police have prevented injury and DP do not even offer any estimate of safety benefit, at least one of those deaths would not have occurred if a mobile camera had NOT been present.


13.  You mentioned that Dorset have been following DFT guidance and have not been acting too differently to other regions. As I know from my extensive industrial safety responsibilities this is not good enough for safety work and the very last thing you do as a safety professional is to ignore safety concerns brought to your attention. I also know for sure that if anyone in a safety role in any private organisation behaved like this they would be fired and probably in serious trouble with the HSE. Martin Baker cannot claim to be unaware of these simple principles and unaware that Dorset Police were carrying out operations in conflict with them.  


The consequences of this complaint finding failures in a Chief Constable around speed cameras would clearly be considerable, and not just for Dorset, and I was not expecting this would be easy but anyone properly and impartially looking at all of the evidence and the facts could not conclude otherwise. I fully understand that the complaint needs to have structure, scope, and rules, but it looked to me yesterday that these are being carefully used to construct a path between the issues once again and to try to avoid them. Someone has to be ultimately responsible and answerable to the concerns I have raised and take an interest in answering them, and if no one else will, MB must be responsible. The allegations around misrepresentation of safety benefit and finances of the complaint are highly relevant to the issues I have been raising for years due to the failure of anyone to deal with them properly. This IPCC process cannot also ignore these issues.

There was no response and no further opportunity for me to contribute to the case. My later request for further review if the case was still finding nothing wrong was ignored.

Once again we have seen a process which reaches its misguided, biased, conclusions only by ignoring the key issues and points presented by one side while going into irrelevant issues in great depth ( for example operational business case, ksi data, statements about the course, DAS overview, research comparing courses, lesson plans, safety audit, PACTS report, …..

Although the original, numerous concerns remain completely unanswered, what sticks out like a sore thumb is:

1.       The total indifference to the apparently fraudulent Speed on Green operation and the contribution to it from Dorset Police

2.       The failure, still, to answer the questions about the 4 highest claimed costs for the provision of the course, for example, “why does it need the equivalent of 10 staff on £52k to deliver a simple course to 40 people”

I therefore conclude that the primary aim of Mr Underhill and Colin Smith has been to try to make this problem go away with as little embarrassment as possible, rather than properly face the facts and deal with them professionally. The IPCC must pick up this case now and deal with it properly. Fortunately this is easy, just an investigation on the 2 points above will I’m sure unlock the whole thing – I think this is why Dorset Police have persistently refused to do so.