Almost 900 motorists are being refunded a total of £88,000 in speeding fines after vandals left speed cameras “out of alignment,” police have said.
The drivers were penalised after they allegedly broke a 50mph average speed limit on the A338 in Bournemouth, Dorset.
Dorset Police admitted that its cameras were “out of alignment” for five weeks in November, meaning speeding offences were wrongly detected.
The force has contacted 884 drivers to apologise and cancel their fines and penalty points, blaming vandals for tampering with the cameras.
In a letter sent to one of the drivers, Dorset Police said: “The issue relates to the fact that there has been movement in the angle of the camera detecting the offence and as a result the camera alignment may have been affected.
“The decision has therefore been taken to discontinue the processing of this offence. Your offence has therefore been cancelled.
“Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience that you may have been caused.”
A Dorset Police spokesman said that the force had a “duty to ensure that we do not proceed to prosecute traffic offences unless we are content that the evidence is robust”.
The spokesman added: “We believe the dealignment of the cameras, meaning that the area of the road captured by the cameras’ image moved slightly, was due to vandalism.
“This is not to say that the reported drivers were not identified correctly or that offences were not committed during that period. However, in an effort to be fair and transparent, it was decided to cancel 884 offences.”
Speeding offences usually accrue a fine of £100 and three penalty points.
Some police forces offer drivers caught speeding the option of avoiding penalty points by attending a speed awareness course, for which the mandatory fee is £120.
One Bournemouth motorist believes problems with the cameras go back further than last autumn, however.
Jade Graham, 35, received three speeding tickets over two months in 2022, having previously had a clean driving licence.
She is not one of the 884 motorists whose speeding offences are being wiped but believes she should be.
Ms Graham paid the first two fines “for an easy life”, she said, but decided to challenge the third.
“I elected to go to court as I refused to admit something I wholeheartedly believed was not accurate,” said Ms Graham, who runs a skin clinic in Highcliffe, Dorset.
“So many people got caught speeding that there was definitely something suspicious going on.
Nonetheless, she was fined £1,000 because magistrates said she had not provided “concrete evidence” that there was a problem with the cameras.
More than 8,000 speeding fines were issued to drivers travelling between Blackwater and Cooper Dean during the 12 months leading up to February 2023, according to previous reports.
It is not the first time Dorset Police has had to reimburse motorists falsely accused of speeding because of faulty cameras.
About 24,000 drivers were refunded nearly £1.5m in 2011 after a paperwork blunder spotted by an alert judge revealed that a speed camera on the A35 at Chidenock, in Dorset, had been operating unlawfully for a decade.