North Yorkshire Police making £1,000 a day from speeding tickets.

MORE than £1,000 a day - that is how much drivers in North Yorkshire are paying out in speeding fines.

The news comes as thousands of motorists take to the county's roads today for the Easter holiday getaway.

The Evening Press used new Freedom of Information legislation to unearth startling statistics which show that the number of drivers landed with £60 penalty notices has steadily increased in the last five years, with £385,020 paid out in 2004.

THE Evening Press can reveal today that 6,417 drivers were caught racing over the limit on North Yorkshire's roads last year.

We used new Freedom of Information legislation to unearth startling statistics, which also show that the number of motorists made to pay £60 penalty notices has steadily risen over the past five years, with £385,020 paid in 2004 - meaning the total fines bill came to more than £1,000 a day.

But this rising trend emerged despite the fact that police chiefs in the county have decided to rely on a team of 85 traffic cops to enforce the limits, instead of installing controversial fixed speed cameras on the county's 6,000 miles of roads.

Our investigation revealed that neighbouring forces have been bringing millions of pounds in fines for the Government using roadside "yellow boxes". Most have caught many times more speeding motorists than the North Yorkshire force.

The news came as North Yorkshire Police renewed their pledge to "get tough" on extreme speeders, including hooligan bikers, in an effort to reduce the dreadful toll of road casualties.

The speeding ticket figures provoked mixed reactions from motorist campaigners, who argued that fixed cameras don't spot other kinds of dangerous driving.

But road safety groups said the machines were an "essential" weapon in the battle against racers who put their lives, and those of other people, at risk.

Paul Smith, founder of the speed camera lobbying group Safe Speed, believed speed cameras made the roads more dangerous.

He applauded senior North Yorkshire officers for targeting problem routes and dangerous roads with mobile patrols rather than permanent cameras.

A spokesperson for Brake, the road safety group, said: "Speed kills. Speed cameras are essential in the fight against speed. Research at speed camera sites shows casualties are reduced."

The newly-released figures outline how the number of fixed penalty tickets issued has risen from 5,295 to 6,417 over the past five years.

But the most recent figure is a small fraction of the estimated 54,600 West Yorkshire tickets, 44,681 Humberside tickets and 23,446 Cleveland tickets issued in 2004.

In West Yorkshire alone, an estimated £3,276,000 was generated for the Treasury by 63 mobile cameras. Some of this cash also came from cameras at traffic lights.

Tony Lidgate, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "Our view is that a laser is a far more effective weapon than a scatter gun. That's why we don't use fixed cameras. We try to go to where the problem is across 6,000 miles of roads. What we prefer to do is to go where there might be a problem - catching a lot of people speeding may not necessarily be appropriate."

A spokesman for the RAC, the national motoring group, said: "Motorists are suspicious of them because they are seen to replace policing by real police officers. They should never be seen as a proper alternative to the policing of our roads."

Phillip Gwynne, who works for a Yorkshire camera safety partnership, said: "We're not in the business of issuing tickets, we're in the business of saving lives."

Those caught over limit face a £60 fine and a minimum of three points added to their licence. Higher speeds may be dealt with by the courts and can result in a ban or even a prison sentence.

Updated: 09:55 Saturday, March 26, 2005