Home > Road Safety > Police Speed Enforcement Cameras

Police Speed Enforcement Cameras

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 22 Sep 2015 | comments*Discuss
Speed Cameras Police Speed Enforcement

Whether you love them or hate them, there's no escaping the fact that Speed Cameras are popping up all over the UK. There are an estimated 7,000 cameras on our tiny island, and millions of pounds in revenue is gained each year by fining speeding motorists.

Safety Camera Partnerships

In the UK, Safety Camera Partnerships are local government organisations set up to be part of the National Safety Camera Scheme. They are given the cash raised from speeding fines in their locality to reinvest back into speed enforcement and red light camera enforcement at so called 'hot spots'.

The stated objective is to reduce death and serious injury by reducing the level of speeding and the severity of the offences, as well as to bring down the number of people 'running' red lights. They state that they want to bring these changes about by preventing and detecting offenders, enforcing speed and red light offences by using cameras and driver education schemes.


The most commonly spotted speed camera in the UK is the Gatso. Manufactured by a Dutch company named Gatsomeer BV, it was invented by 1950's rally driver Maurice Gatsonides and uses a radar to measure the speed of vehicles passing it. It then photographs the vehicle from behind, after it has gone past the device travelling at a speed above the preset maximum limit.

Gatso installations are identifiable by a series of white lines painted on the road. The camera will usually take two photographs with a time interval (usually somewhere around the 0.5 second mark) and the vehicle's position when compared with the white road markings will be used to work out approximately how fast the car was travelling and verify the reported speed if the driver decides to dispute the offence.

Up until April 2007 all speed cameras in the UK had to have the rear pannel painted yellow to identify the whereabouts of it, however, since the new rules came into play in April 2007, it ceases to be an obligation and it remains to be seen whether the yellow cameras will start to become less visible, in an attempt to catch out more speeding motorists.

Mobile Speed Cameras

A mobile speed camera is a road vehicle fitted with speed camera equipment which can park on bridges or other places that static speed cameras would be unable to access.

They can come in many different guises but generally, you can spot them either as a white van with the equipment poking out of the back or out of a sliding panel along the side. They have to carry a speed camera warning logo, but this as a warning is largely useless because by the time you're close enough to see it, they've already recorded your speed.

There has also been an increase of motorcycle based mobile speed cameras to allow monitoring in places that even the vans cannot get to.


SPECS is a speed camera system that is made by Speed Check Services Limited, a company based in the UK.

The cameras operate as one or two sets along any given route and the average speed over the distance travelled between two cameras is worked out using automatic number plate recognition technology (ANPR). This is a variant of camera likely to become more popular in the future, as the use of ANPR becomes more widespread.


Truvelo cameras are made by a South African company named Truvelo Manufacturers Ltd.

The truvelo camera takes pictures from either the front or rear (but more commonly the front) using a flash gun filtered with a magenta filter so that the driver isn't blinded by the sudden flash in their eyes.

The reflected light provides the film with the right exposure and results in a clear photograph of the driver committing the offence.

Piezo-electric road strips are set a measured distance apart into the road in front of the camera and the time between compressions caused by the vehicle is measured and this gives the resulting speed of the car.

So remember, next time you notice your needle going over the speed limit - Big Brother really is watching you, and he might just be waiting to take your photograph too!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
CS - Your Question:
I have recently been issued with a NIP for allegedly doing 37mph in a 30mph zone, however I believe this was captured by a mobile speed camera and not a static camera. Firstly do mobile speed traps have to stop you legitimately or can a NIP be issued without having to be stopped. Secondly the NIP advises the alleged offence happened at 16.03, yet the photograph clearly shows 16.00. Would any of this be grounds for a defence.

Our Response:
Yes an NIP can be issued. On the time issue, you could question this but it's likely that it's a time discrepancy between two pieces fo machinery. If you do want to query this you'd be advised to seek help from a motoring lawyer first...they'll be able to advice you on whether it's worth challenging.
SaferMotoring - 24-Sep-15 @ 10:37 AM
I have recently been issued with a NIP for allegedly doing 37mph in a 30mph zone, however I believe this was captured by a mobile speed camera and not a static camera. Firstly do mobile speed traps have to stop you legitimately or can a NIP be issued without having to be stopped. Secondly the NIP advises the alleged offence happened at 16.03, yet the photograph clearly shows 16.00. Would any of this be grounds for a defence.
CS - 22-Sep-15 @ 8:37 AM
@Wat. This is what the ACPO Guidelines suggest that high visibility is important, the lack of it is NOT a defence against the offence.
Here's what the guidelines state:
High visibility clothing manufactured to a recognised standard should be worn. The British Standard and European Standard for high visibility warning clothing is BS EN 471.
In speed limits up to and including 40mph a visibility of a minimum of 60 metres should be maintained.
In speed limits above 40mph a visibility of a minimum of 100 metres should be maintained.
The guidance above is intended to allow oncoming motorists to avoid collision with enforcement personnel. Failure to follow it will NOT render the evidence of the officer inadmissible or provide any defence.
SaferMotoring - 6-Jul-15 @ 12:37 PM
are speed camera vans allowed to legally operate whilst parked partially obscured behind a road sign on an island in the middle of an entrance/exit from a dual carriage way in england
wat - 2-Jul-15 @ 10:30 AM
@welshdaddy. Yes they are. Speed limits in roadworks are there to protect the workmen, so police activity is often stepped up in these areas.
SaferMotoring - 9-Mar-15 @ 10:59 AM
Are speed cameras aloud to park in roadworks to catch drivers, as i was caught speeding an the mobile van that caught me, was in the roadworks and the view of it was obstructed due to it being in the roadworks.
welshdaddy - 4-Mar-15 @ 4:21 PM
Do mobile speed camera like vans have to be parked at the side of the road. or can they park anywhere like a pub car park and catch you speeding.
The Rev - 12-Sep-14 @ 3:45 PM
I wrote the following email to all the places I thought relevant. I can only hope they take it seriously. To whom it may concern. Recently I received a penalty charge notice (No. GP61051571-SD60HNK) for being in a "Bus Lane". I have only recently started working here in Glasgow and I had no idea whatsoever that I was breaking a law. I am not trying to get out of this as I have already paid the fine and take full responsibility for this error. However, my concern is that I may have did this on several other occasions without actually realising it. I feel that there should be a better and fairer way of alerting people to the fact that they are breaking the law. I still don't see how or where to obtain the information that alerts me to this - do people normally need to find out this way?. I know there is a "Traffic Enforcement" sign but I thought that was for speeding or traffic lights. Anyway, I have paid the fine and I apologise for my ignorance but I feel it would certainly be unfair if I was to receive any more of these, i.e. if they occurred before I paid this fine, as this was the only way I was alerted to my infringement. I hope this information is helpful and if I can assist in any way with how a stranger to the area perceives the warning signs then please let me know.
JJ - 2-Dec-12 @ 6:33 PM
I was driving down the M74 and ahead I seen 2 figures standing on an bridge, one was all in black the other with a hi vis jacket on. The one in hi vis had a camera and realised then it was the police. I never seen any marked or unmarked car, van or motorcycle. Are the police allowed to do this? And are the allowed to fine you?
PaulH - 9-Aug-12 @ 9:04 AM
i believe i was issued a speeding ticket by cambs &peterborough road saftey police i remember seeing a plain blue van sitting at the side of the a141 in july i just recieved a nip in the mail ar mobile camera unit supposed to be clearly marked up ?
pauley - 4-Aug-12 @ 8:16 AM
I saw a plain white van today, parked on the side of the road. No markings, just that looked 4 camera's at the back behind glass. I passed it just doing 35mph, but it didn't flash and didn't see anyone around it. 5 mins later I went the opposite way back, and noticed on the top, 2 ariels. Is this a speed camera van, or A.N.P.R van. If it was a speed camera van, should this be marked up.
Eddiesnow - 13-Jun-12 @ 1:55 PM
Hi , would really appreciate some help with this.My wife was following another car last night distance about (6 metres ) at about 7.30pm in Grantham, it was raining and dark . The car in front suddenly hit the brakes as did she as suddenly a policewoman leaps out from a car park at the side of the road and waves the car in front in and my wife to pull in. She talked to the other driver for about 5 min then let him go on his way then proceeded to tell my wife she had been caught doing 49 miles an hour which she believes was the car in front of her speed as he was pulling away accelerating before he hit his brakes,. Question?Firstly how can they read both cars speed at the same time and secondly my wife’s speed 'through' the car in front as its not possible. The Policewoman began chastising my wife, then by saying repeatedly that "we caught you don’t challenge it just pay the fine and take your docs to the police station" as if she was going over the top and actually bluffing but trying to pressure my wife into believing that it was done and dusted, which my wife at the time being in shock didn’t question till I asked her how fast she was going and she said about 32 / 33!! Please any help you can give us as I believe this was a an unfair tactic used by this police woman. There was no other waning signs on the road and the camera was on a mobile tripod operated by another really bolshie officer, who wanted to do her for doing over 50 mph originally but the policewoman said we will call it 49 mph! is this some sort of ploy ? it was either over 50 or 49 not made up numbers esp when my wife swears she was only doing slightly over 30 anyway ?
urbanfox - 6-Oct-11 @ 9:00 AM
Can a police car sit on the other side of the road on a dual carriageway entrance snapping?
JH - 11-Sep-11 @ 8:29 PM
no, this is an illegal offence and the policemen could be liable in court if you were found to be speeding. Luckily however you say you wern't :)
maccy - 28-Jun-11 @ 11:32 AM
I was travelling down a main road yesterday, when I reached the brow of the hill, I continued down, then to my shock a police officer on a bike was hidden between two cars on a garage forcourt. Is it right that a "Speed Officer" is allowed to hide between cars on property which doesn't belonging to the officer? I was lucky I wasn't speeding, because I didn't see him until about 5 metres away.
DFree - 18-Apr-11 @ 5:32 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SaferMotoring website. Please read our Disclaimer.