Full refunds for faulty fines
From the Daily Telegraph
POLICE Minister Michael Costa yesterday vowed to reimburse people who had been issued speeding fines logged on faulty equipment, in a turnaround from the NSW Police stance last week.
Mr Costa made the promise after the NSW Ombudsman's office announced yesterday it would launch a full investigation into the issuing of fines using at least 20 highway patrol vehicles found to have speedometers out by at least 4km/h.
The faulty speedometers were revealed in a report in The Daily Telegraph last week, but Traffic Services Branch commander, Chief Superintendent Ron Sorrenson, said all the fines were valid and would stand.
He said that, despite a new system of checking finding the speedometers were out, officers had certified that the cars' speedometers and radars correlated when they last used them to issue fines.
Mr Costa said if the Ombudsman's investigation found the fines were questionable, motorists would get their money back.
"If that equipment is faulty and if people have been captured by faulty equipment, they have entitlement to a full refund," Mr Costa said.
"The fundamental point is this: if we have fined people as a result of faulty equipment and it's demonstrated that the equipment's faulty, they're entitled to a refund."
NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour yesterday released an interim report.
It stated that the speedo inaccuracies were uncovered as a result of Operation Sibu, an investigation into three Subaru WRXs tested by the highway patrol which had faulty speedometers.
Sibu interviewed more than 150 people and identified 67 officers who had not performed their speed enforcement or supervisory duties properly.
As a result, 530 speeding fines issued using the WRXs were refunded.
The report said that at the start and end of every shift, highway patrol officers must conduct a "three-way correlation" to ensure their vehicles' speedometers and radars correlated.
If there was a variance, tickets should not be issued and the vehicle not used for speed enforcement until it is checked out.
Mr Barbour said his office would see if these same checks had been carried out by those using the Fords and Holdens in question. If not, the fines' validity would be questionable.
"There's a risk that that is the case, and that is what is currently being looked at," he said.
Opposition spokesman Andrew Tink yesterday questioned why, when the speedo problems were identified in early 2001, the Ombudsman report stated: "Senior management is now seeking advice on the extent to which these instructions [speed checks] were complied with."
You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.'So that was nice.