Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001

Houses of Parliament: Vehicles (Crime) Act – Schedule

House of Commons First Reading 8 December 2000

House of Commons Second Reading 18 December 2000

The Bill completed its remaining Commons Stages on Tuesday January 30th 2001.

House of Lords Second Reading 15 February 2001

House of Lords Committee Stage 5 & 6 March 2001

House of Lords Report Stage 20 March 2001

House of Lords Third Reading 27 March 2001

Received Royal Assent Spring 2001



Sections with relevance for transport safety include:

(35) Access to certain motor insurance information. Click here to view this section of the Bill

(37) Funding of certain magistrates’ courts costs relating to vehicle crime. Click here to view Hansard. (Following amendments in the Commons, this Clause is now number 38).

Lords Third Reading of the Bill: 27.3.01
Coverage of the Lords Committee Stage 5th March 2001
Coverage of the Lords Committee Stage 6th March 2001

Details of the Commons Standing Committee Stage

The Speaker has allocated the Bill to Standing Committee A, and has appointed Mr Bill O’ Brien and Mr Jonathan Sayeed Chairmen. The Committee of Selection has nominated sixteen Members to serve on the Committee: Mr John Bercow, Mr David Chidgey, Mr Charles Clarke, Mr Michael Fabricant, Mrs Linda Gilroy, Mr Keith Hill, Helen Jones, Mr David Kidney. Mr Stephen McCabe, Miss Anne McIntosh, Mr Andrew Miller, Mr Greg Pope, Bob Russell, Mr Jonathan R. Shaw, Mr Keith Simpson and MR Gareth R. Thomas (Harrow West).

Standing Committee Meetings

First Sitting Tuesday 9 January 2001, morning
Second Sitting Tuesday 9 January 2001, afternoon
Third Sitting Thursday 11 January 2001, morning
Fourth Sitting Thursday 11 January 2001, afternoon
Fifth Sitting Tuesday 16 January 2001, morning
Sixth Sitting Tuesday 16 January 2001, afternoon
Seventh Sitting Thursday 18 January 2001, morning
Eighth Sitting Thursday 18 January 2001, afternoon
Ninth Sitting Tuesday 23 January 2001

Commons Second Reading of the Bill
Lords Second Reading of the Bill
Research Paper on the Bill by the House of Commons Researchers
PACTS’ response to the Vehicles (Crime) Bill
PACTS contacted parliamentary members of PACTS encouraging their support for the Bill. Read the letter sent on 26 January 2001.
PACTS briefing for the Second Reading in the House of Lords


Parliamentary Briefing House of Lords Second Reading, Thursday February 15th


The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) welcomes the Vehicles (Crime) Bill as a contribution to road safety and to the target for casualty reduction set in March 2000. Of particular relevance is the Clause that will allow an element of the funds raised from safety cameras to be returned to police forces and local authorities to undertake further camera activity.


In March 2000, the Government published its strategy for road safety, “Tomorrow’s Roads – safer for everyone”. This set a target for casualty reduction by 2010 of

40% in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road crashes
50% in the number of children killed or seriously injured
10% in the slight casualty rate, expressed as the number of people injured per 100 million vehicle kilometres.
In 1999, 3423 people were killed and 39,122 seriously injured. Speed, whether excess – breaking the posted speed limit – or inappropriate – driving too fast for the conditions – is likely to have been a contributory factor in at least one third of these crashes.

Safety cameras: the story so far

Safety cameras are roadside cameras enabling prosecution of drivers for breaking the speed limit or for ignoring red lights at traffic lights. Both these criminal offences are accompanied by significant increased risk for drivers themselves and for other road users.

Section 23 of the Road Traffic Act 1991 permitted evidence from type-approved automatic devices to be used as the sole evidence that an offence had been committed. Safety cameras, introduced progressively since the Act was passed, have been highly effective in reducing crashes and injuries. Early research for the Home Office published in 1996 (Hooke A, Knox J and Portas P, Cost Benefit Analysis of traffic light and speed cameras) reported a reduction of 28% in injury crashes at speed camera sites and a reduction of 18% in injury crashes at traffic light sites. In 1999, 825,264 fixed penalty notices were issued for speed limit offences.

A perennial concern to both local authorities and police forces has been the inflexibility of the current funding regime for safety cameras. At present, the cost of installation and maintenance of a camera and of the prosecution of offenders falls upon local authorities and police forces. Income raised from fixed fines is returned to the Treasury.

In April 2000, a pilot project was established covering eight police force areas allowing the forces to retain an element of the fine income to fund additional camera activity. The forces in question are Cleveland, Essex, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Thames Valley, South Wales and Strathclyde.

Safety cameras are a highly effective method of tackling excess speeding. Although it is too early to draw hard and fast conclusions from the pilot projects, early results are encouraging. In Northamptonshire, the number of fatalities killed in road crashes fell from 76 in 1999 to 55 in 2000. Average speeds of motorists have fallen by 13mph and there has been a 40% fall overall in deaths and serious injuries. If this figure remains constant, Northamptonshire will have achieved its 2010 casualty reduction target almost overnight.

Safety cameras also enable enforcement activity to be targeted at the high-speed offender. As the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions paper New Directions in Speed Management (DETR, 2000) concluded:

The greatest reduction in casualties would come from reducing the speeds of the faster drivers:
if the proportion of speeders doubles, accidents go up by 10%
if their average speed goes up by 1mph, if all else is held constant, accidents go up by 19%
if an individual drives more than 10-15% above the average speed of the traffic around them, they are much more likely to be involved in an accident. (Paragraph 38)
Enforcement and Education are not mutually exclusive

During the debates on the Bill in the House of Commons, a number of comments were made about the importance of driver education. There was also some suggestion that the extension of safety camera fines was a “stealth tax” upon the motorist. PACTS does not share this last view but recognises that education and enforcement must go hand in hand if the culture of the roads is to be altered for the better.

Police in the pilot projects have recognised this. Thames Valley Police has established a Safer Roads Partnership with local authorities, magistrates courts and the crown Prosecution Service. In May 2000, at 19 speed check sites in the Thames Valley area, more than 800 drivers were stopped for speeding. 485 of these were given speed awareness training by road safety officers. (Slower Speeds Initiative, Killing Speed, 2001).


Breaking the posted speed limit is a criminal offence that exposes the car driver to higher level of risk and increases the risk of death and injury to those outside the vehicle. Hit by a car travelling at 40mph, 19 out of 20 pedestrians will be killed. At 30mph, the risk of serious injury to a belted car occupant in a front seat is three times greater than at 20mph.

The threat of being caught by a safety camera will increase significantly if this Bill is passed. It will help increase the level of compliance with speed limits among those road users more likely to comply, thereby allowing police resources to be targeted on those who deliberately violate the law and who are more likely to be involved in fatal collisions.

February 2001

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