Auckland Council's 'hollow' $720k spend on red light cameras
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Auckland Council's $720,000 investment to double its red light cameras this week has been undermined by police's admission they will only enforce half of them at once.
In fact, there will be no increase in the number of red-light cameras issuing tickets than previously, with NZ Police saying they only have an agreement with Auckland Transport (AT) to operate six at any one time, despite there now being 12.
Neither AT or police could provide a timeline for when a new "agreement" would be established so that all 12 could be enforced simultaneously.
Compounding this loggerhead of police enforcing capability is the planned introduction of six new red light cameras each year going forward, until there are 42.
The issue, it appears, is a historical under-funding from Police National Headquarters in Wellington and a chronically outdated computer system, unable to cope with the increase in speed camera numbers and front line staff.
The red-light ticketing deficiency has frustrated Auckland councillors who say they did not know all 12 cameras could not be enforced when they approved funding for them.
"The capital spend is entirely council's cost, through AT. We made the move to install new technology cameras due to constrained police budgets making no allowance for that most necessary spend," Auckland councillor Chris Darby said.
"The business case for the red-light programme assumed every camera would be operating 24/7. That appears not to be the case and therefore our recent press releases heralding the roll-out of another six cameras seem a bit hollow.
"Council has done its bit, but police seem to be missing in action, due to anaemic budgets conferred by political masters. The fault therefore belongs not really with police but up the chain."
As it stands the six Auckland cameras "enforcing" tickets will be rotated based on data of the highest risk intersections taken by the non-enforcing, but still "operational", red-light cameras.
AT general manager of network management and safety, Randhir Karma, says "operating" cameras will be in monitoring mode, and that switching any given red-light camera to one of the six available "enforcing" modes can happen at any time.
"Our current agreement with NZ Police, who enforce the red light safety cameras, is for six cameras to be enforcing at any one time. The remaining six cameras are still on and operating. This agreement has been in place for a number of years."
Police national manager for road policing, Inspector Peter McKennie, reiterated they have an agreement with AT "to process infringements for any six red light cameras at any given time" and will work with AT on "future opportunities".
The Police Infringement Processing System (PIPS) struggling to compute the escalating number of traffic infringements will "need to be replaced at some point" McKennie said, but no date was set for this.
However, at the September 4 Auckland Council planning meeting, AT executive GM of service delivery, Andrew Allen, was far more frank about the deficiencies in the police technology.
"My understanding is absolutely is that there is a constraint at the police enforcement end," Allen said.
"Their enforcement technology as I understand it is quite outdated, so there is a limit to the amount of enforcement they can put through that system. It's probably fair to say as things stand now this minute they're not able to enforce every single camera that we have or that we plan to put in".
The upgrade to even six Auckland red-light cameras only occurred in June this year. Previously, there was only three - two in Counties Manukau, and one in Auckland Central.
In the year to June police have issued 528 infringements from Auckland red light cameras, generating $79,200.
Darby said a spot meeting between AT and police has now been scheduled for next week to discuss short term solutions.
In particular, the inability of AT to enforce traffic infringements themselves, independent of police, will be addressed.
"I think AT are going to be offering police some interim solutions using AT technology until such time that police can properly resource its own back office," Darby said.
"We've [council] made some big investments in technology. Police could be sitting in Wellington and they could access our system and do their job without having to wait for funding to build their own capability.
"We've asked AT to work with police collaboratively because it is not just about one of us just addressing this in the old fashion silos. We've got to collaborate constructively to resolve this issue."
- NZ Herald