Cameras catching hundreds of red light jumpers in Plymouth

-Credit: (Image: Katie Timms)
-Credit: (Image: Katie Timms)

Motorists in Plymouth are more likely to be caught jumping red lights than anywhere else in Devon because of traffic light cameras that operate in the city - with more expected to be rolled out in due course across the region.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request answered by Devon and Cornwall Police revealed that there were four sites across the force area where there were 'red light' cameras.

The "red light" camera at Tregolls Road in Truro amassed a staggering 575 incidents since it went live in April 2022. The site already had a speed camera which caught more than 3,000 motorists in one month alone - June 2022.


Meanwhile, Alma Road in Plymouth saw 149 offences taken place under the beady eye of the red light camera which was installed - or rather upgraded - in October 2020, although if it was not for the Covid pandemic it would have been erected in around February 2020. The camera is one of the city's busiest speed cameras, activating a total of 18,838 times between 2016 and 2018.

The nearby Mannamead Road red light camera, which did not go live until February 2020, has only caught 36 motorists ignoring the signals.

The new speed camera on Plymouth Road can detect motorists jumping red lights and speeding over 40mph
The speed camera on Plymouth Road can detect motorists jumping red lights and speeding over 40mph -Credit:Matt Gilley/PlymouthLive

At the time a spokesperson for the Peninsula Road Safety Partnership explained that the new design of Digital Safety Camera was being installed on the A386 Alma Road and on the B3250 at the Mannamead Road/Thornhill Road junction in Plymouth "to replace the current cameras which operate using 'Wet Film' technology."

They added: "The design is similar to Average Speed Camera technology already in use within Plymouth on Gdynia Way and Billacombe Road and will detect vehicles jumping red lights and exceeding the speed limit when the signal is on green similar to the existing cameras. The new cameras are an up to date way of fulfilling the same role and are being installed in partnership with Plymouth City Council to assess this technology for wider use to reduce red light running and speeding within Plymouth."

The fourth camera on Plymouth Road in Plymouth amassed 249 instances of red light jumping - and it only went live in March 2022. However, police said that while the camera there had "always" caught people running red lights, following an upgrade it could also catch people speeding over the 40mph limit - described by police as a "speed on green".

At the time a Plymouth City Council spokesperson said: "This site has had a red light camera for many years, which was also bright yellow. Due to its age Plymouth City Council and the Vision Vero South West Partnership, formerly the Peninsula Road Safety Partnership, have taken the decision to replace it with a new camera which will not only enforce red light violations but also speeding in excess of the 40mph speed limit."

However, following on from more questions about the cameras by PlymouthLive, Vision Zero South West (VZSW), in collaboration with local authorities across the two counties and National Highways, confirmed it has begun investment to update some of the ageing static speed and red light cameras across both counties.

A spokesperson for the VZSW said the organisation recognised camera systems were not always popular, but were "sometimes necessary to improve road speed and red light compliance."

The spokesperson said: "The cameras are considered successful when the offence detection number is low and road compliance is high such as the Tregolls system where recent statistics show 99.79 percent speed compliance eastbound and 99.71 percent westbound.

-Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live
-Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

"The historic cameras that detected red light offences use old technology that required induction loops in the road surface. It was evident that repeated repairs were needed as heavy vehicles broke the sensitive induction loops over time and they were also often damaged consequent to ongoing road maintenance regimes. Repairs and replacement demanded road surface replacement which is expensive and also causes dislocation of local traffic and frustration to communities during the roadworks."

The spokesperson said that the force area currently has five "new era operational red light and speed cameras" which do not require induction loops including Tregolls Road in Truro, Plymouth Road by Cott Hill, Mannamead Road and Alma Road in Plymouth.

They added: "Torbay Road in Torquay is the most recently installed camera and turned on 26 March 2024. In response to collision history, another red light camera in Edgecumbe Road, St Austell is installed and is due to be switched on imminently.

"Modernisation and investment by VZSW continues and will see the replacement and upgrade of old speed and red light systems in Newton Road, Shiphay and Newton Road by Torre Station in Torquay, Outland Road near to St Erth Rd, Outland Road near to Segrave Road, Milehouse Road towards Alma Road and a new system in Crownhill Road by Transit Way in Plymouth.

"VZSW objective is to prevent persons killed or seriously injured on our roads. It is recognised driving at excess speed and jumping through red lights is a key factor in causing collisions and aggravating injury and this is avoidable.

"The number of camera systems that detect red light and speed offences in Devon and Cornwall is low however I would remind any motorist tempted to jump a red light system that any member of the community could capture the incident on dashcam and police will deal with these incidents when reported to Operation Snap. Additionally police officers have reported 1,661 drivers having witnessed a red light offence in the last five years.

"VZSW ask all motorists to keep to the speed limits and obey the traffic lights which will help to make our roads a safer place."

In relation to the upgraded cameras former police superintendent Adrian Leisk, now head of Road Safety for Vision Zero South West, previously explained: "We know speed cameras work to reduce speeding and that speed is a contributory factor in many collisions.

A new speed camera has been installed on Tregolls Road in Truro after the last one was targeted by vandals and cut down in January.
A new speed camera has been installed on Tregolls Road in Truro after the last one was targeted by vandals and cut down in January. -Credit:Greg Martin / Cornwall Live

"Travelling too fast not only gives drivers less time to react, it also increases the likelihood of injury in the event of a collision. Cameras such as these, not only enable us to prosecute those who jump red lights or drive at dangerous speeds, but importantly allow us to refer the vast majority into driver education training.

"This is offered as an alternative to prosecution because we know it changes behaviour and reduces the risk of an offender subsequently being involved in a collision. Enabling sustained behavioural change is at the heart of our approach to monitoring and enforcement of high-risk driving behaviour.

"Across our Devon and Cornwall we operate more than 80 active speed cameras which includes a mixture or traditional cameras and average speed detection systems.

"We also have 12 dedicated Speed Detection Officers (SDOs) who can operate at mobile locations throughout the region, as well as a network of over 600 Community Speed Watch volunteers who work tirelessly to keep their communities safe."

Click here to join PlymouthLive on WhatsApp and we'll send breaking news and top stories directly to your phone. We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice.