Police caught speeding on A Current Affair (11/08/04)
I watched A Current Affair tonight and saw a segment on Police officers being caught speeding by cameras, the excuses they give and how they get out of it (fines and demerit points).
I was totally shocked. I am not sure which state it was but fairly sure it was Vic or NSW.
They had files that had been found in rubbish bins from the basement under the building where traffic fines are processed. These files contain the information on which police officer was caught speeding, at what speed, the location, the reason given and the result (ie, the fine waived, a reprimand/caution given, etc). The police officers caught and let off amounted to a couple hundred in this state alone (not sure over how long) and they ranged from junior officers to senior officers and detectives.
Some examples given were a detective caught travelling at 85 in a 60 zone. His excuse given that his wife was having contractions, that the road was clear and conditions were good. Despite the fact that his wife didnt have the baby for quite a while after that time, he gave these excuses as to why he was speeding and he was let off after a letter was sent to the infringement dept by his boss - fine and demerit points waived.
Another was a female officer who was about 10km over the limit and who wrote a letter actually admitting her offence (that she did not remember speeding at all, that she was following cars in front at the same speed), but saying that she had done the right thing by being on the phone at the time, on a handsfree kit. The response was that she was let off anyway because it was "refreshing" that someone admitted their fault in the offence.
Other various excuses were "I was thinking about other things" and the classic "I was late for court" - this one was let off because his superior wrote to the infringement dept about what a hard worker this guy was! Other excuses were along the lines of "It was safe, conditions good, no other cars" etc, etc... They were all let off.
They intereviewed the Assistant Commissioner of Police about it, fairly extensively. The AC stated that doing 85 in a 60 zone was not necessarily unsafe, that it was important to consider the context in which the offence occurred! He said there were conditions were doing that speed is considered safe and that was taken into account when letting the officers off. The AC said that many factors are taken into account when letting the officers off, and that all circumstances are given consideration in the same way as circumstances are considered when looking at appeals against offences from the general public. He said that in the case of the detective whose wife was in labour (apparently not, it turned out), that if a member of the public was to offer the same excuse, then it would also be "taken into consideration".
In the end, he admitted that even he himself had been caught speeding by a camera and when asked if he paid it or got out of it, he said he most definitely paid it because he felt it was the responsibility of the driver to face up to the offence! He looked really dodgy though - I reckon there was no way he paid it... but who knows?
There was also that guy (Cadogan), report from Wheels, who had a fair bit to say about it.
My points about the whole segment are:
1) They tell us speed kills but then the AC claims that doing 25km over the limit can be considered safe in the right context.
2) The Vics enforce a 3km/h tolerance on speed on the basis of their TAC research that claims that every km/h over the speed limit increases the chances of accidents exponentially - they never mention anything in relation to point 1) - ie, "contexts" of speeding and that it might actually not be unsafe in some circumstances, which is what we have all been arguing for ages.
3) The police seem to have different rules than the rest of us. That they can have the luxury of driving where the system does take account of all factors, whereas the general public are subject to the "politically correct" and revenue raising side of speed enforcement.
4) Police and who knows how many other kinds of govt officials drive according to conditions which are not necessarily unsafe like the rest of us, but common sense is applied to them and not us.
5) Despite the AC saying that if the general public write in with similar letters to these officers regarding their fines that all circumstances will be continued, I do not yet know of anyone in the general public who has managed to do exactly that - I have tried myself, with valid reasons, compared to some of these and been told to bugger off.
6) So much for a strict liability offence where fault is implied by the action and no defence is available - strict liability offences are not intended to take into account any kind of defence, however speeding offences for police officers do not seem to be of the strict liability kind, since almost any defence, and even a clear admission of guilt, will count as a defence.
This just made me mad, given the rhetoric that is spat out to all of us about every km/h over the limit kills, reduce the road toll, all the rubbish about road safety generally, the ever increasing govt control over speed (ie number of cameras and lower tolerances) and the govts unwillingness to listen to the public about the issue!
I would like to know, now, how many police officers have been let off for drink driving or other traffic offences!
Sorry for the long post!
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