FINANCIAL cutbacks have forced Dorset Road Safe to scale back its speed camera operations – despite warnings that casualty rates could worsen.

The revised arrangements will mean that only the 20 sites with the worst accident rates will continue to be monitored by fixed speed cameras.

But a council report has warned that the move could have a “detrimental effect” on the effort to cut casualties on the road.

Red light cameras will also be restricted to the six worst sites and the partnership will not be able to buy any new equipment.

However, there will be increased use of mobile camera vehicles at 33 mobile sites and 62 regular speed complaint sites across the county.

Speed Indicator Device signs will continue to be used and road safety education initiatives will be unaffected.

Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset councils, Dorset Police and Dorset Road Safe agreed the reductions following cuts in government road safety grants.

This financial year, Bournemouth has had its road safety funding reduced by a total of £207,252.

Road safety minister Mike Penning has also written to council chief executives warning them against becoming “over-reliant” on cameras to achieve road safety outcomes.

“The number of cameras has increased greatly over the last decade and many motorists feel they are being unfairly and indiscriminately targeted to generate income from fines,” his letter said.

Bournemouth’s transport portfolio holder Cllr Michael Filer has agreed that Bournemouth will remain a member of the partnership until at least March 2011.

But a council report warns: “The casualty reduction targets for Bournemouth are particularly challenging and those for 2010/11 are unlikely to be met.

“There is clear evidence that the presence of cameras and enforcement at these sites make a positive contribution to casualty reduction.

“There is a risk that the reduction in partnership funding therefore has the potential to have a detrimental effect on achieving casualty reduction targets.”