SPEED camera bosses have been accused of misleading the public over claims more motorists are speeding since the cameras were switched off on August 1.

Last week, Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership said a roadside camera on the A44 in Woodstock had seen an 18.3 per cent increase in speed offences since the switch-off compared to the average number caught this year.

At the same time a radar inside a second camera in Watlington Road, Cowley, registered an 88 per cent rise in offences when compared with figures in 2008 and 2009.

The partnership said the figures for 2010 were not available, as the camera had been switched off due to roadworks.

When the Oxford Mail requested 2008-9 data for the Woodstock camera – to make an equal comparison to the Watlington Road camera – the partnership said the figures were not readily to hand.

Now, the Oxford Mail having obtained the information, the figures actually show speed offences fell by four per cent when comparing the figures since the switch-off to offences in 2008-9.

All the county’s speed cameras were switched off after Oxfordshire County Council withdrew funding.

Within days the partnership released its statistics, alth-ough spokesman Dan Campsall warned: “These are very limited results from just two locations.

“However, if this is a trend that grows across Oxfordshire it is very worrying indeed.”

Woodstock town councillor and former mayor Peter Jay said: “(These figures) are lies, damn lies and statistics.

“It’s always wrong if anyone misuses figures and if a public authority misuses them it’s not only wrong but a disgrace.”

Mark McArthur Christie, the chairman of the Oxford group of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “People have been very accepting of partnership statistics in the past and taken them at face value.

“If this gets people questioning camera stats that’s a good thing. The problem for the partnership is once people feel misled they feel reluctant to believe you a second time.”

Mr Campsall insisted there was no deliberate attempt to mislead the public about the figures.

“I don’t think there’s anything we have done that is disgraceful or lies and damn lies.

“As we have always maintained, these remain limited data sets and there is a great deal more study that will need to be undertaken to determine what the increased risk at decommissioned camera sites is.”

He said the inconsistency in the figures arose because the partnership were evaluating speeding data for a live broadcast on Radio 4 and wanted to get the most recent set of data prior to the decommissioning of cameras in 2010 to show the impact of the switch-off.

However due to road works the Watlington Road camera had not been in operation this year so the partnership has to use historic figures from 2008 and 2009 instead of the 2010 comparison for Woodstock.

The county council is doing its own survey of speed across the county.

Council leader Keith Mitchell said: “This does back up what I have been saying that we have got to wait a while to get some real information on this and when we do get it it has to be consistent with what we are comparing.

“I’m not an expert in this, I’m a finance person at heart and for us this decision has been about our finances and cutting the cameras or cutting children’s services.”

  • Watlington Road, Oxford

2008 and 2009 average offences per day: 6.6

No data for 2010.

2010 Dummy radar camera offences: 12.4

Percentage rise = 88 per cent.

  • A44 Woodstock

2008 and 2009 average offences per day: 22.8

Average 2010 offences per day: 18.6

2010 Dummy radar camera offences: 22

Percentage fall (compared with 2008/9) = four per cent.