Police's new weapon against speedsters

By Jared Savage

For sale: Just $62,500, a late-model, eight-seater van perfect for carrying the whole family - and a police speed camera.

It's the first picture of the new Toyota Previa wagons that police are using to conceal speed cameras on the side of the road.

They have bought 12 of the 2008-model "people movers" but have refused to reveal at what cost because of "commercial contractual confidentiality".

Car buyers can purchase a Previa from Toyota dealerships for $62,500 - an estimated total of $750,000 for the dozen the police purchased.

A prototype was tested by police last July, six more have been rolled out since, and a further five are to be fitted out as camera vans.

Police national headquarters defended the switch to the Previa vans from the cheaper Mitsubishi L300s that have been used since 2002.

When asked why police had changed the make and model of speed camera vans, spokesman Jon Neilson said the L300 "no longer meets the operational requirements for a camera vehicle".

The 29 vehicles in the fleet were replaced on an ongoing basis, said Mr Neilson.

Again, he declined to reveal the cost of replacing vehicles because of "commercial contractual confidentiality".

The Weekend Herald reported in January that police collect about $50 million each year in speeding fines.

More than 500,000 speeding tickets were issued in the first nine months of last year, most generated by police officers or by speed cameras in the back of mobile vans.

Police were criticised last year after a leaked email suggested traffic officers should be "turned loose" or organised into blitzes to meet ticket goals.

The August 12 email set out targets for the Waitemata district patrol officers, divided into different categories: speeding, alcohol, seatbelt, careless and dangerous driving, as well as high-risk driving.

Each officer was expected to issue 1420 tickets a year, including 560 for speeding.

- NZ Herald

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