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Dangerous deception, greed and waste award 2013 goes to Scotland

This award previously went to Kent Council, where some of the highest paid council managers I’ve known furiously dodged questions, facts, and evidence about the ineffectiveness of speed cameras, and continued with absurd exaggeration of camera benefit, presumably in order to try to protect the £millions coming in from driver courses. They were eventually encouraged to remove the dishonest statements but flatly refused to provide any justifications or communicate meaningfully about the waste and danger being caused to the public paying more for them than we pay for the Prime Minister. The danger, greed, deception and waste continues in Kent (as it still does in many other places) for now.

But Scotland has gone one step further – as well as trying to give the impression that speed cameras reduce KSIs by 68%, it has also gone ahead with a £2.4m fixed speed camera upgrade – while totally failing to answer concerns about how speed cameras only increase KSIs overall – the negative impact of distraction from competent and honest road safety work which could eat into the 65% of KSIs involving simple driver error, for example, obviously dwarfing any benefit that could come from targeting the 7% of KSIs with speed as one of usually a number of factors, in only about 1% of road space (i.e. total overall potential maximum benefit of 0.07%, about a thousandth of that suggested)!

Last July, Scotland released this “Statistical Bulletin”:  http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0039/00398164.pdf

The deception starts on the first line: An Official Statistics Publication for Scotland. But if you check the code of practice for “Official Statistics” you will find requirements like “Integrity”, “Honesty”, Objectivity” and “Impartiality”. The first statement in “preamble” is “Official statistics are fundamental to good government, to the delivery of public services and to decision-making in all sectors of society”. When you see the first “Summary of findings” on the first page, you will soon see just how far these statistics could be from delivering these aims:

“The number of people killed or seriously injured at safety camera sites is 68 per cent lower after camera enforcement”

I’m sure I don’t need to provide any further explanation about how dishonest, misleading and dangerous this is. Of course, you will find this on all the Scottish “Safety” camera partnership websites – it’s all they have to offer to try to suggest that they do something positive when they don’t care at all about road safety, they just want the money and job security.

When these statistics were first challenged, the “Chief Statistician” for Scotland, Roger Halliday, defended them and stated that they had been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority and found to be of “high quality”.  This was the next lie as when I made enquiries, it turned out that the UKSA had not even seen them.

Surely at that point, the Chief Statistician would admit the “error”, take down the offending bulletin,  and do his best to ensure that all those who could have been deceived, potentially resulting in them asking in good faith for more cameras and therefore further increasing danger on the roads, were fully informed?

No Way. The first step was to try to retrospectively gain approval from UKSA for statistics which Mr Halliday now knew WOULD BE LIKLEY TO INCREASE ROAD DEATHS, and following on from that, while the fixed speed camera refit progressed, systematic and widespread cover-up and avoidance, from all Scottish departments involved – Statistics, Scottish “Safety” Camera Partnerships, Scottish Government complaints, Scottish Ministers, and even Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon themselves. They have had the waste, and danger, and the reasons for it (job protection) explained to them in crystal clarity over and over but have flatly refused to take any interest or action, presumably also adopting the familiar “head in sand” position that independent road safety campaigners have seen so many times and know so well.

Even now, as articles start to appear about this appalling situation, Scotland refuses to take down the rogue statistics:

http://www.transportxtra.com/magazines/local_transport_today/news/?id=35094

http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/41/4131.asp

Scotland seems to know that these statements are unacceptable but would prefer to leave them in place, never mind the danger and dishonesty, rather than admit to being wrong, or worse, to have deliberately tried to deceive.

The Road Safety Scandal has the potential to be as big as the shocking and dismal situation now coming to light in the NHS. And those driving it are the very people that we should be trusting the most, the police, the councils, the DfT and the Government. Sometimes it seems that this country is at the point where criminals and tyrants in its various civil services outnumber those on the streets.

Independent road safety campaigners are gaining momentum, soon the scandal will be undeniable, and those responsible will hopefully for once not be able to just hide from the wrong they must know they have done.