Details of the fees paid by gardaí to the private company which operates a system of mobile speed detection cameras have been made public for the first time.

GoSafe, which operates 50 speed detection vehicles, was paid €1.2m per month to carry out speed checks under the terms of a contract released to RTÉ News under the Freedom of Information Act.

A contract shows the company was paid a flat rate of almost €45,000 per month before a single vehicle was checked.

On top of this, a rate of €151.79 was paid per hour of speed monitoring, while €144.40 is paid for each surveying hour.

Monitoring can result in prosecutions, while surveying takes place to assess compliance with the speed limit in a particular area. No prosecutions arise from surveys.

Further charges applied for the purchase of specialist equipment and the cost of covering staff that have to attend court cases.

Over 7,000 hours of speed monitoring are carried out each month.

GoSafe provides 7,373 hours of speed monitoring each month. A minimum of 100 hours of surveying is also provided.

The contract ran for over six years until May 2017. It has since been replaced by a new agreement.

The company, the Garda and the Department of Justice objected to the release of the contract. However, the Office of the Information Commissioner ruled that its release was in the public interest.

The contract makes it clear that there should be no correlation between payments made to the service provider and the number of vehicle detections, or penalty point notices issued or collected.

More checks carried out between midnight and 3am

The agreement states that more speed checks should be carried out at weekends than on weekdays - Sundays 19-25%, Saturdays 16-20%, Fridays 14-18%.

It obliges the company to carry out more checks between midnight and 3am than at other times.

It states that less than 3% of speed checks should be carried out on motorways and dual carriageways, and 15-20% of checks should be on heavy goods vehicles.

It states that approximately 11-14 million speed checks should be carried out annually across 25 garda divisions.

Hourly rate for court appearances

Under the terms of the agreement, gardaí must also pay GoSafe if the company's staff are required to appear in court to give evidence in speeding cases.

The agreement states that a daily rate of €1,343.44 must be paid if a designated service manager is required to appear in court as instructed by the garda commissioner.

Hourly rates range from €40.79 for the appearance in court of administration staff and up to €167.93 for a service manager.

Gardaí informed GoSafe that approximately 30% of offences have to be dealt with in court.

The contract states that any member of GoSafe's staff may be required to attend court and to attest to the conduct of GoSafe's procedures.

It says that in such cases, the garda commissioner will instruct the service provider accordingly.

Criticism of court appearance

GoSafe has come in for criticism in the past over the appearance of its staff in court.

In March last year, District Court Judge Patrick Durcan ruled that GoSafe employees do not have the required authority to prosecute speeding cases in the District Court.

In October 2014, the same judge dismissed 98 speeding cases on the basis that GoSafe staff were unable to demonstrate the requisite legal authority for them to give evidence on behalf of An Garda Síochána in relation to the cases before the court.

In December 2014, Judge Sean McBride dismissed 17 speeding cases at Monaghan District Court, stating that "the chain of evidence was inherently flawed".

Last month, Independents4Change TD Clare Daly won an appeal against a speeding conviction in Co Kildare on the basis that no evidence of a contract between the Minister for Justice and GoSafe was presented in court as part of the State's evidence.

One million speeding fines issued

GoSafe's parent company is based in the Isle of Man. It employs 80 staff in Ireland and has 50 vans which monitor speed at 1,000 locations.

Since the introduction of the system, around one million speeding fines have been issued.

Based on data derived from a study carried out for gardaí, it is estimated that the speed camera system has saved 23 lives a year.

According to information released in the Dáil in 2015 GoSafe was generating €7.5m in speeding fines.

In the same year, over €17m was paid to GoSafe.

GoSafe is paid per hour, and not per detection.

REPORTING BY JUSTIN MC CARTHY