One in five police speedos faulty
From The Daily Telegraph
ONE in every five of the state's highway patrol vehicles was found to have faulty speedometers, but only 18 motorists have been recommended to have their speeding fines refunded.
A NSW Ombudsman's investigation launched 10 months ago has raised serious concerns about the adequacy of checks carried out on highway patrol vehicles used to issue speeding fines to motorists up to 2001.
Yet Ombudsman Bruce Barbour, in releasing the report, described it as a "good news" story for the Government and for motorists who did not speed.
However, he recommended that the police service review its procedures for checking the accuracy of speed enforcement equipment and consider refunding and restoring demerit points to 18 motorists fined wrongly.
Shadow police spokesman Peter Debnam said the report raised more serious questions than it answered.
The Police Service said yesterday it was pleased with the report and said it would consider within the next month whether to refund the 18 motorists.
The investigation was launched by the Ombudsman's office last June after The Daily Telegraph revealed that 20 NSW Police highway patrol vehicles were found to have speedometers inaccurate by at least 4km/h.
However, the report tabled in Parliament yesterday revealed that a program of testing all highway patrol vehicles, which ran from January 2001 to February 2002, found the true number was 66 vehicles.
It comprised about 20 per cent of the police force's 300 highway patrol fleet.
In his report, Mr Barbour states only that four police cars had speedometer errors at 60km/h, but 42 vehicles had speedometer errors at 120km/h.
Mr Barbour said in his report that he found it difficult to believe that the police service carried out the required checks that an officer calibrated the speedo with a radar at the beginning of each shift to ensure it was correct before issuing fines.
He said the issue which caused him greatest concern was that the problems with the 66 vehicles were not picked up during the officer's routine checks. There was no proof, however, that the vehicles had not developed the problem the day of the test.
"While it cannot be demonstrated beyond doubt, it stretches credibility that all correlation checks between radar and speedometers in these 66 cars were satisfactory," he states.
"And even though not all cars may have had inaccurate speedometers prior to being tested, it is difficult to accept that no cars would have had inaccurate speedometers.
"That said, I cannot demonstrate any case where a motorist was fined for speeding by a police officer driving one of the vehicles with an inaccurate speedometer, (that) the police speedometer was inaccurate at that time," he said.
Mr Barbours office picked a "sample" of traffic fines 3632 of more than 12,000 issued per year for its audit. The sample was not restricted to the vehicles with fauly speedometers. It found 18 (.5 per cent) were incorrectly issued. The motorists were speeding but they had been fined at a higher penalty range than they should have been.
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.