Today, ITS UK has launched a campaign urging the Home Office to review the process by which it approves enforcement technology for use on the road network, known as Home Office Type Approval (HOTA).
What is HOTA?
Home Office Type Approval (HOTA) is a testing and certification process overseen by the Home Office that enforcement technology must pass before evidence from enforcement devices can be admissible in UK courts.
What is the problem with the process?
ITS UK Members, which include many manufacturers of enforcement technology, have raised concerns that decisions for approvals often take an excessively long time to get made, with procedures being opaque and decisions difficult to understand. Some manufacturers have reported delays to approvals of between three and five years.
The delay to enforcement technology approvals is having a significant impact on both the road network and wider sector:
- Reduced safety: New devices and technology that could be improving the safety of the road network are not being taken up, thereby reducing transport authorities’ ability to keep road users safe.
- Loss of jobs and investment in the industry: Manufacturers have reported that the long and unpredictable timescales make it uneconomical for suppliers to invest in the UK. Some have reported reducing capabilities or that they are even look at pulling out of the UK market as it is too difficult and unpredictable to achieve approval.
- Reduces the ability to innovate: Delays deter new products from coming to market and bar truly innovative solutions from being proposed as these products often don’t conform with the handbook that defines how an approved system can operate.
- Obsolescence of current technology: Existing HOTA devices are becoming obsolete with no clear path to upgrading them. If a sub-module within a device reaches the ‘end of life’, it is currently not possible to put a compatible alternative in as it would need to be reapproved.
What would manufacturers like to see?
ITS UK Members would like to see four simple steps to improvement:
- Regular dialogue: A return of monthly meetings where assessors from DSTL would meet with manufacturers.
- Timelines for approval: Sensible timelines could be agreed for a project at the application stage and assets within DSTL can be allocated to manage the application to its conclusion.
- Fasttrack process for new modifications: That a new modification process for the approval of already approved equipment could be quickly agreed.
- Update SpeedMeter Handbooks: There was agreement that the speedmeter handbooks should be updated as a matter of urgency. These should be changed to align to existing standards and to concentrate on the requirements for the record produced by the equipment rather than how the equipment operates.
View from ITS UK
Speaking on the topic, ITS UK Chief Executive Max Sugarman explains: “Enforcement technology on our transport network is essential to keeping road users safe, as well as supporting an important sector for UK plc. Yet, it is clear that manufacturers of this equipment are not getting their products approved in a timely and transparent way, making it highly difficult to get new and innovative technology onto the road system, and impacting investment and jobs across the intelligent transport industry.
He adds: “So, today, ITS UK is calling on Government to review the HOTA process and to commit to setting out clear timelines and greater engagement with the supply chain, in order to resolve these issues. Getting the process right would have little to no cost to Government, but would be hugely beneficial to road users, transport authorities, police forces and the wider sector.
“We look forward to engaging with Government to deliver a better, more effective approval system, for the benefit of all.”
Want to find out more?
You can find out more about this issue by reading the ITS UK Briefing Note on the HOTA Process or ITS UK Chief Executive Max Sugarman’s Blog Post – ‘HOTA isn’t working’.