On Tuesday Beds police and crime commissioner Olly Martins told the Home Affairs Select Committee that unless he is given extra funding for the force he will have no other option but to seek other means of income.
As well as ‘ethically vetted’ commercial sponsorship for the force’s unforms and vehicles, the PCC may use his powers to permanently turn on variable speed cameras between M1 junctions 10 and 13.
At present the cameras are only active when speed restrictions are in place.
Mr Martins said that this move could raise £1 million a year– enough to prevent the loss of 25 officers.
However it has been branded ‘utterly outragerous’ by the Association of British Drivers- an organisation which takes on “councils who so often see drivers as a cash cow to be milked at will”.
Co-founder Hugh Bladon said: “I think this is a dangerous precedent. I am really appalled that a police force should be even considered such an idea. “My fear is that if police forces see this working in one area they will quickly adopt a similar approach and soon the whole motorway network will be operating a zero tolerance policy.
“If the police want us on their side this is hardly the best way to go about it.
“This is utterly outrageous.
“Speed cameras are supposed to be there to make the roads safer, but as we now see the real reason is to make money.”
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, has said that he has “total sympathy with cash-strapped constabularies” but none for “forces explicitly setting out to raise money from cameras”.
He added: “We support the proportionate use of cameras for safety reasons but this step would fan the fury of millions of sceptical motorists who already suspect that some of them are only there to raise revenue.”
When initially discussing his plans Mr Martins said he was prepared to take “desperate measures” to stave off further cutbacks to Beds Police.