A “STAGGERING” hike in fees for speed awareness courses in Dorset has been branded a moneymaking scheme by campaigners.

The cost of the course, offered to drivers in lieu of a fine and points on their licence, rocketed from £70 to £100 this year.

It makes it one of the most expensive in the country and Dorset Police are set to rake in an extra £500,000 this year from the fee rise.

Motorists offered the education option after a speeding offence are told the fee – set by the Dorset Police Authority – is to cover the cost of providing the courses.

But a report from the authority admits a surplus could be used to plug the hole created by funding cuts.

Hugh Bladon, founder of the Association of British Drivers, blasted the money being made from the fees as “outrageous”.

“They are fleecing motorists,” he said.

“The courses don’t cost anywhere near this amount to put on.

“Motorists are trapped perhaps travelling just a few miles an hour over the limit, then charged these excessive fees.”

While the AA run speed awareness courses on behalf of many local authorities, Dorset Police organise their own and therefore set their own fees.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), which offers guidance on setting course fees, last year said the courses were not designed to “lay a golden egg” for providers.

Dorset’s £100 course lasts three hours and is entirely theory-based.

Ian Belchamber, from the Dorset Speed campaign group, said charges should be “proportionate and reasonable”.

“I presume there’s Champagne and smoked salmon on tap if the courses cost this much to run,” he said.

The income generated from course fees created a surplus of more than £560,000 last year.

With the extra £500,000 due to be created by the £30 fee rise, the total surplus could top £1m next year. Dorset Police conceded some of the extra money from course fees would be spent on operational duties.

A spokesman said the course fee was set to “make a proportionate contribution to road policing costs and road safety”.

“The surplus from course fees is used to cover some of the overall costs of policing the roads and provide other driver training,” he said. “The total direct cost of road policing is in excess of £7 million a year.”

How Dorset ranks in speed awareness course fees:

• Kent - £110

• Dorset - £100

• Surrey – £97

• London/Thames Valley - £95

• Hampshire - £74

• Cambridgeshire - £61