HUNDREDS of motorists could have their speeding tickets torn up after allegations that speed cameras were incorrectly calibrated.

Five members of civilian staff have been temporarily removed from their posts at Lancashire Constabulary's central processing unit, Blackburn, after the suspected error was uncovered.

And police have called in the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate after conducting their own internal probe.

The allegations have drawn strong criticism from East Lancashire politicians and motoring groups who claimed that public confidence in the speed camera system could be severely affected if motorists had been incorrectly fined.

Greg Pope, Labour MP for Hyndburn, said: "I think we are going to get to a point where speed cameras are no longer commanding public support."

The IPCC is investigating allegations that a member of staff incorrectly calibrated mobile speed cameras and that four members of staff failed to correctly process documents required by courts.

They have all been transferred to other duties during the investigation.

Blackburn's central processing unit is responsible for all the mobile speed cameras throughout the county. There are 74 sites where mobile cameras are deployed, plus a further 72 sites of community concern where the cameras are also used.

The IPCC said the investigation currently related to one camera which was used during the summer and it is believed that the alleged error involves 200 motorists.

It is currently trying to establish where the camera was used and investigating whether more cameras were involved.

Lancashire Constabulary has defended its actions and insisted that any fines that should not have been issued will be rescinded.

A spokesman said: "At this stage, it appears that the remaining, and majority, of processes within the CPU are sound, although everything will be examined in detail.

"The constabulary recognises that there may be some members of the public who will have questions surrounding their specific cases.

"We will contact any individuals whose cases may need to be reviewed as a result of the potential irregularities being identified and at the conclusion of the IPCC enquiry."

Lancashire Police Authority, which has responsibility for overseeing the work of the constabulary, said it was happy at the way the situation had been handled.

Trish McGirr, chair of the professional standards committee, said: "Their actions emphasise that unprofessional behaviour or misconduct of any kind will not be tolerated.

"The police authority is satisfied that the robust procedures in place are working pro-actively to ensure that the highest standards of delivery are upheld."

But online motoring organisation said the allegations would affect public confidence in the system.

General manager Alex Petrie, said: "Our recent survey highlighted that Lancashire had the highest number of speed cameras in the UK.

"Whilst Keepmoving support the use of speed cameras in promoting road safety, there is an impression that they are used more as a means to revenue generation and the residents of Lancashire will doubtless feel very concerned about any such potential calibration issues."

And Greg Pope, Labour MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn, added: "If a lot of people have been fined it's a real cause for concern. I want people to drive safely but people are really sceptical about speed cameras and if they can't rely on the fact they are accurate that affects public confidence."

Leader of Burnley Council, Gordon Birtwistle, added: "Despite this I'm still in favour of speed cameras.

"Even I have been done by one. The most dangerous thing on a road is a car that's out of control and speed cameras make people think and keep control of their vehicles."

Naseem Malik, IPCC Commissioner for the North West, said: "Both matters have the potential to impact upon public confidence. It is important that a thorough and timely investigation is conducted to ensure confidence is restored in the important work of this unit."