POLICE Scotland has shelved plans to waive fines for speeding motorists who agree to undergo retraining, in what one expert called a “setback for road safety”.

The national force announced late last year it was to “scope” driver re-education schemes that have slashed reoffending in England and Wales.

However, earlier this month, it quietly pulled a £500,000 IT upgrade it needed to introduce so-called “speed awareness” courses offered to low-level speeders south of the Border as an alternative to fines and points on licences.

Papers put before the force’s ruling watchdog, the Scottish Police Authority, said the speed awareness had been “deprioritised” and that money, along with other savings, would instead go on mobile phones and replacing some of the force’s riot vans.

Police Scotland, which is trying to reduce spending amid a serious budget squeeze, said it was still “considering the merits” of speed awareness courses along with the Crown Office, which would have to give permission for such a scheme.

However, the decision to delay budget on the IT needed to facilitate the English-style system means motorists will continue to face fines rather than re-education at least well into the next financial year.

Campaigner and expert Neil Grey, of IAM RoadSmart, said: “We are really disappointed the introduction of speed awareness courses are being further delayed in Scotland.

“The report from down south made it clear that those drivers who took a course were less likely to reoffend than drivers who had been fined or had points.

“A Scottish course would give traffic officers more options at the roadside beyond the current warnings or full prosecutions.

“The impact of having your driving behaviour challenged in a public forum should not be underestimated and this announcement is definitely a setback for road safety in Scotland.”

In England and Wales drivers caught speeding can be ordered to undergo – and pay for – courses costing some £100.

Research carried out for the Department of Transport and published in May found re-offending rates for “graduates” of the course to be 10 per cent lower than for those who were fined over three years.

Some 1.2million people have done the training, which is not open to persistent repeat offenders or those whose speeding is deemed particularly dangerous.

Superintendent Barry Blair, of Police Scotland’s Criminal Justice Services Division, said this research “allowed a full evaluation and considered approach” to introducing speed awareness training in Scotland.

He added: “While this is ongoing, we have recognised that in this financial year we will not spend the amount previously allocated and we will distribute these funds across other priority areas but remain committed to working with the Crown Office and other partners to scope the feasibility of speed awareness in the future.”

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said speed is a contributory factor to nearly one in four fatal crashes.

He added: “Brake encourages any approach that can positively influence driver behaviour. Education can play an important role in deterring dangerous driving, and evidence shows speed awareness courses can be an effective measure in preventing re-offending.

“While Brake would welcome the future introduction of speed awareness courses in Scotland, we strongly believe these should not be offered as an alternative to penalty points, which provide a key role in tracking and penalising dangerous, repeat offenders.”