SPEED camera vans have been branded “the single greatest underachievement of income” for North Yorkshire Police.

Accounts for 2017/18 have revealed that road safety cameras brought in millions of pounds LESS than the force and the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) expected.

However, force chiefs stressed that the failure to make cash did suggest the cameras were doing their job and making roads safer.

North Yorkshire Police does not receive any income from speeding penalties - the full amount goes to the Treasury - but if a driver takes a speed awareness course as an alternative to a fine and points on their licence, the force receives some income from the cost of the course.

In 2015/16, the force received just over £1.8 million from the courses, and based later budgets on a similar or higher amount, even increasing the number of speed camera vans on the region’s roads.

The Chief Constable’s draft statement of accounts said: “The recharges made for speed awareness courses were responsible for the greatest single underachievement of income. The recharges generated £2.1 million less income than was forecast.

“This was in part as a result of a delay in the procurement of new vans which resulted in fewer than 12 safety camera vans being deployed until the middle of December. In addition to this the safety camera vans generated course referrals at a slower rate than was forecast and the rate of offences detected per hour has also decreased.”

North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said the “underachievement of income” simply showed the road safety camera vans had worked.

She said: “The camera safety vans are on our roads to help make them safer. They have been very effective in doing so, with clear evidence that drivers are slowing down and as a result, fewer people have been on driver awareness courses than was estimated, resulting in less money coming in.

“The success in slowing people down does mean shortfalls in estimated budgets, which were based on figures from previous years, but contrary to popular belief, this has never been about making money. The work that the safety camera vans do is very important, and as they pretty much ‘break even’, it suggests the current numbers are about right. However, this is under constant review, as are the financial impacts.”

The report stressed there was an upside to the "underachievement".

It said: “Although this has a negative impact on the income received, it is perhaps an indication that the vans are having a positive impact on driver behaviour in the force area.”

Mrs Mulligan added: “We also know that they have saved lives. Independent research by the University of Newcastle on 22 deployment sites over three years, showed a clear reduction in serious injuries, as well as at least eight fewer deaths. This is good news and should be welcomed as North Yorkshire has some of the most dangerous roads in the country.”

North Yorkshire Police has been advertising in recent weeks for new full-time safety camera officers to operate throughout the region’s 6,000 miles of road networks, offering salaries of between £19,521 and £21,618.