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Tuesday 19 November 2019

Private company's speed cameras have 'little impact on saving lives' - claims former garda chief

A mobile road safety camera van operated by GoSafe
A mobile road safety camera van operated by GoSafe

Cormac McQuinn and Wayne O’Connor

SPEED cameras operated by a private company are having "little or no impact" in reducing road deaths, the former head of the Garda National Traffic Bureau has claimed.

Former Garda John O’Brien has questioned if contracts awarded to the Go Safe consortium - which he estimated to total €160m - represent value for taxpayers money in a report he sent to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The committee’s chairman, Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming said Mr O’Brien "expresses grave misgivings" in relation to the value for money of the project. And Labour TD Alan Kelly said his report "raises a huge amount of questions".

The PAC is to write to the Gardaí and the Department of Justice to seek detailed reports on the issue.

The Go Safe consortium has been awarded two contracts to operate private speed detection vans, initially in 2009 and again in 2016.

In his report Mr O’Brien quotes figures compiled by the Comptroller and Auditor General in 2014 that showed that Go Safe accounted for 22pc of speeding detections.

Garda vans meanwhile accounted for 24pc and, along with other Garda speed detection measures, amounted to 78pc of all detections. In his conclusions he claims that; "Garda detection systems are far more productive than Go Safe".

He also claims that; "The Go Safe system has little or no impact on road casualty reductions".

Last night Go Safe directed queries on Mr O’Brien’s report to the Gardaí.

A Garda spokesperson insisted the current speeding detection system, including the use of Go Safe, saves lives and is cost effective.

A statement said this is backed up by a 2014 independent study into road safety cameras and a separate report by the Garda Inspectorate which recommended that non-intercept detection of road traffic offences should be "fully outsourced".

It said that study concluded that "safety cameras do save lives in a cost effective way and thus continued expansion of the safety camera programme is a worthwhile objective."

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