There are many questions, myths and bad advice surrounding mobile safety camera operations This page is designed to help answer  the questions that we regularly receive.

Q: Does the camera enforcement operator have to be a police officer?

A: No, the safety camera operators are employees of Cumbria Constabulary and are authorised by the Chief Constable to carry out their role of gathering evidence. They have been fully trained in the use of all aspects of the Home Office Type Approved device they are using and are authorised to drive a police liveried enforcement vehicle.

Q: What difference does it make that your camera operators are civilians and not police officers?

A: All our mobile and safety camera operators and technicians have been specifically designated by the Chief Constable as "policing support officers" in accordance with the Police Reform Act. This means they have many of the same powers and duties as constables when carrying out their work. Obstructing, assaulting or harassing them in their work are criminal offences which carry terms of imprisonment.

Q: What offences do the enforcement operators gather evidence for?

A: The purpose of the safety vehicles is to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured in collisions on our roads, by encouraging people to obey speed limits and drive in a safe and considerate manner. The camera operators can detect drivers or passengers who fail to wear a seatbelt, drivers who use a mobile phone or hand held device whilst driving or who fail to be in proper control of their vehicle; they are also able to enforce vehicles travelling in both directions, which means that they are able to measure and photograph vehicles either approaching or receding from the enforcement vehicle.

Q: I didn’t see any signs, how am I meant to know the speed limit?

A: Speed limit signs are circular with black numbers on a white background with a red border. These show the maximum speed that you should travel at. It does not mean that it is safe to travel at that speed in all conditions.

It is the duty of the highway authority to erect and maintain signs to give adequate guidance of the speed limit to be observed. There is guidance that tells the highway authorities how this may be achieved but this is not mandatory and adequate guidance can still be provided if the guidance is not followed. The safety camera sites are all checked for adequate legal signage prior to undertaking operational enforcement


If there are no signs and there are street lights present, lit or unlit (the street lights must be no more than 183 metres apart whether they are on the same or opposite sides of the road), the speed limit is 30mph. The law does not allow the highways authorities to erect "repeater” signs where there are street lights and a 30mph limit

National speed limit

If there are no street lights, and there are no signs to the contrary, then the speed limit is 60mph single carriageway or 70mph Dual carriageway. This reduces to 50mph / 60mph respectively if the vehicle is a goods vehicle such as a non car-based van or a passenger vehicle with more than eight passenger seats.

Q: Should there be camera signs to warn drivers of the presence of enforcement vehicles?

A: There is no legal requirement for the police to display camera signs on or near the road or on the enforcement vehicle. Motorists should be aware that if they exceed the legal speed limit anywhere at any time, they risk being detected and fined

Q: Do the enforcement vehicles have to be visible at all times?  

A: The enforcement vehicles are clearly visible yellow liveried vans, complete with Camera signage on both sides, front and rear. However, this is not a legal requirement. Covert enforcement is and has always been lawful.

Q: How far can the mobile cameras reach?

A: The mobile cameras employ laser technology to detect the speed of vehicles. The laser has a theoretical range of many miles but for enforcement purposes where the operator needs to see the vehicle, the equipment is calibrated up to 1000 meters.

Q: How do I know the equipment is accurate?

A: All detection devices are Home Office Type Approved for use. The equipment has internal automatic self-diagnostic checks and are regularly tested by the operator during use against known targets. The equipment is also independently checked and calibrated on an annual basis in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidance and issued with a calibration certificate which forms part of police evidence and can be produced in court if required.     

Q: Why are you enforcing here?

Cumbria Police can enforce any speed limit on any road in Cumbria. The only requirement in law for speeding convictions to be valid is that there is appropriate notification of the speed limit to motorists on the road in question and evidence that the legal speed limit has been exceeded.

There are a number of ways speed enforcement sites are agreed / prioritized:


1.    KSIs Hotspots / Clusters   

2.    Areas proven to have large scale noncompliance of the speed limits.    

3.    Community concerns.      

Q: Where can your enforcement vans park?

A full risk assessment is carried out and the technician will check to see if there are any parking restrictions. We don’t park on double yellow lines or cycle lanes and ensure they are not causing an unnecessary obstruction. The van is always manned so if anyone requires access where the van is parked we can be moved immediately. Currently we are able to park on paved areas, but must not cause an obstruction, (space must be left to get a wheelchair or double buggy / pushchair past without hindrance).  If the van is parked on private property then we would obtain permission from the land owner before enforcement was carried out.

Q. Are you choosing your van locations to raise the most revenue?

A. Any money from fines does not come back into the constabulary, but direct to treasury. If a driver is eligible and opts to attend a speed awareness course a small amount is deducted from the course fee to cover the constabularies admin costs.