Motorists could face fines for travelling just 1MPH above the M1 speed limit, a police commissioner has warned.
The radical zero-tolerance plans are just one way a cash-strapped force could raise much-needed funds.
Speed cameras could be turned on permanently as early as April next year, with “strict enforcement of the speed limit” according to Olly Martins.
Speaking to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr Martins said his force’s “desperate financial plight” left him “no option” and he was “actively looking” at ways to generate more money.
The Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner said the county’s force was “stretched to the limit”.
He said: “I am running out of levers to pull to keep Bedfordshire Police financially viable.
“We’ve extensively lobbied the Home Office for fair funding, but they haven’t listened and the Chancellor’s spending review at the end of the month means we face more cuts.
“Strict enforcement of the speed limit could raise £1 million and to me that’s better than losing 25 more police officers.”
Mr Martins told the committee that unless the force’s grant funding was “realigned to the reality of the county’s policing challenges” he would have to use his powers to permanently turn on the cameras between Junctions 10 and 13, one of the busiest stretches of the motorway which runs from West Yorkshire to London, though South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
The cameras are linked to variable limits, which can reduced to below 70mph for safety reasons.
Motorists caught speeding would then be forced to pay a £100 fine as well as having points added to their licence, or could opt to attend a speed awareness course, costing £90.
The majority of revenue from fines goes to central government, but a proportion goes to the local force.
Mr Martins said: “We have just 169 police officers per 100,000 population as against a national average figure of 232.
“Yet we have the fourth highest level of gun crime per head, fifth highest level of burglary, robbery and vehicle crime, seventh highest level of knife crime, together with a high terror threat and organised crime problem. That’s why I am prepared to take desperate measures to avoid reducing our already anaemic police numbers.”
However, Hugh Bladon, from voluntary lobby group group the Alliance of British Drivers, criticised the idea of making money from speed cameras.
He said: “These cameras are alleged to make roads safer, they are not to make money for the police or government or anyone and to suggest that it is, I’m lost for words.”
“It is completely contrary to to anything to do with road safety and utterly obnoxious.”
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