FAULTY speed cameras led to 59 motorists paying for speed awareness courses even though they hadn't been breaking the limit, it has been revealed.

Lancashire Police is set to refund the drivers, who paid to go on the day-long, £80 courses as an alternative to penalty point after being tickets by wrongly-set-up speed cameras.

Hundreds of speeding fines are also being ripped up.

In October, when it was revealed that an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the mix-up had been launched, it was thought that 200 motorists would be affected and that there was just one faulty mobile speed camera.

But it has now emerged that speed guns were also wrongly calibrated over the seven-month period from February to September 2007, and multiple cameras have been affected.

The member of staff involved has been temporarily moved to another department but is still employed by the police.

The commission is also investigating allegations that another four members of staff, who have also been moved, failed to process court documents correctly.

The police watchdog is investigating why the cameras were calibrated wrongly by a member of staff at the Blackburn-based central processing unit.

So far Lancashire Police has written to 300 drivers with refunds for speeding fines, and more are expected to follow. The letters sent out did not refer to speed awareness courses, but these are also to be refunded.

Critics have said that the mess undermines the education message about the dangers of speeding.

Police chiefs and the IPCC have refused to reveal precisely where in the county the drivers were caught - but the Lancashire Telegraph has learned the faulty cameras were used in East Lancashire during part of the affected period.

Speed awareness courses, run by the county council-backed Road Safety Partnership, are offered to drivers as an alternative to getting licence points after being caught speeding.

They last around seven hours and are only available to people caught driving just over the limit. Most courses take place in Leyland.

Greg Pope, Labour MP for Hyndburn, said the mix-up sent out the wrong message.

He said: "This is a real mess. It's not just the cost of going to the speed awareness course, but getting time off work and travel costs.

"This should really focus people's minds to get these things right in the first place.

"Speed cameras aren't very popular in the first place - some people see them as a tax on the motorist. So this won't help."

The IPCC is refusing to say how many speed cameras are thought to have been affected.

An IPCC spokesman said: "The IPCC can confirm that the process of rescinding speeding tickets has begun as a result of information uncovered during the investigation into allegations that a member of Lancashire Constabulary staff had incorrectly calibrated mobile speed cameras.

"The investigation is ongoing, but Lancashire Constabulary has written to approximately 300 motorists whose convictions have been deemed unsafe."

Lancashire Police refused to comment.