MORE drivers are being caught speeding in Cumbria after road chiefs stopped publicising where cameras are operating.

A surge in offences on some roads is being put down to more ‘random’ operations with the Cumbria Road Safety Partnership’s four mobile vans being deployed more flexibly.

Figures show that 4,596 motorists were clocked flouting the limit on the A591 – from Kendal to Bassenthwaite – in 2009/10 but that rose to 7,014 during 2010/11.

Kevin Tea, who is in charge of safety camera operations in the county, said there had been an increase on the A591, particularly near Bassenthwaite, after residents requested it.

He also said the partnership had become ‘free’ to go wherever it liked after an obligation to publish where its mobile vans were located was scrapped.

“When we were governed by the Department for Transport, we had to notify everybody where we were operating and people were able to manipulate the system,” said Mr Tea.

“We got free from those rules and regulations and introduced Random Road Watch, where we didn’t notify everybody where we were.” Elsewhere, 2,035 motorists caught speeding on the M6 south of Tebay in 2009/10 jumped to 2,820 in 2010/11, a rise of 785.

But on the A65, cameras have recorded 2,340 speeders so far between 2010/11, down on 3,218 from 2009/10.

The number of offences has also dropped marginally on the A590, with 2,335 cases in 2009/10 down to 2,309 so far between 2010/11.

Statistics are measured between January and December, meaning the final number for 2011 could be higher.

Mr Tea said the focus of speed cameras had switched from punishment to education. Instead of being fined or given penalty points, drivers are now invited to attend a four-hour speed awareness course.

Collected fines are split between the partnership’s administration costs, education initiatives and the government.

“The whole point of safety cameras isn’t to make money, it’s to change people’s attitudes to driving,” he said. “We used to issue fines and that was it but there’s been a shift in the way we look at things.

“People used to ring us up and say we have got a speeding problem in our village but we had to wait until someone died to do something about it.

"We are now proactive in reducing the number of people dying.”

The number of people killed on Cumbria’s roads has fallen from 53 in 2000 to 30 last year.