Speeding drivers opt for courses

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MORE than 35,000 motorists in Suffolk have taken a speeding awareness course since the scheme was widened to fund speed cameras.

Figures obtained by the Bury Free Press following a Freedom of Information Request reveal that 19,439 completed the course between January and September after being caught speeding.

Last year, 16,122 took part in the scheme – up on the 2,578 recorded in 2009, 1,108 in 2008 and 577 in 2007.

The massive increase follows a broadening of criteria for the courses, which were originally offered by police to those caught speeding up to 36mph in a 30mph limit.

The scheme was widened at the start of 2010 for speeds detected up to 10 per cent plus 6mph above any speed limit and again to 10 per cent plus 9mph towards the end of that year.

In response to a request for information about the courses, Chris Hunt Cooke, chairman of the Magistrates’ Association Road Traffic Committee, said: “The criteria has been widened and the charges increased in order to provide funding for speed cameras after central funding was withdrawn.”

Depending on the vehicle speed, the driver may be offered the course, a fixed penalty notice or be summonsed to court.

Motorists will not be offered a course if they have completed one in the last three years. The FOI request found that 162 course offers were cancelled last year because one had previously been attended with another 1,606 so far this year.

This compares with none between 2006-08 and six in 2009.