Police Error Stings Drivers
From The Daily Telegraph
TWENTY highway patrol vehicles used to issue thousands of speeding fines have been found to have inaccurate speedometers.
A secret report compiled by NSW Police's Traffic Services Branch reveals 20 of the V8 sedans had speedometers which were at least 4km/h out.
They include 13 Ford XR8 and seven Holden SS sedans used for traffic enforcement across NSW, including Albury, Wagga Wagga, Surry Hills, Green Valley, Mosman and Manly.
Police Minister Michael Costa last night asked for a report on the matter from Police Commissioner Ken Moroney.
However, traffic branch chiefs - while admitting the report on the faulty speedometer readings exists - insist the cars' speedometers were not faulty the whole time they were being used to issue fines.
Traffic Services Branch commander, Chief Superintendent Ron Sorrenson, said a review had shown there was no need to refund the "many thousands" of infringement notices issued by police using the cars.
Police who last used them - who must conduct daily checks to ensure their speedo matched their radar readings - vouched for the accuracy of the cars' speedos, he said.
But solicitor Brendon Noney, from Mark Solomon and Associates, last night said people given tickets by officers in cars with the faulty speedometers would have a case to lodge an appeal.
"They would certainly have grounds to appeal their conviction," Mr Noney said.
"Certain things would have to be proven. In particular [the driver] would have to be able to identify the particular police car that was being used by the officer who issued the ticket."
Police policy says the accepted variable speed between a speedometer and a radar is plus or minus 2km/h.
Chf Supt Sorrenson did not dispute the documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph indicating the vehicles were found to be at least 4km/h out the day they were tested.
But he said: "You can't draw a correlation that if a speedo is out on one day, that it's necessarily out three days prior."
He said police, as part of policy, checked speedos every day. "Now you've got a document that highlights some checks on vehicles," he said.
"I've got no problem with that. But if you take it from the extension ... that they were used for speed enforcement when they were not accurate, I would dispute that."
The tests on the state's fleet of about 400 vehicles used for speed enforcement was ordered as part of a 12-month investigation into three Subaru WRXs found to have faulty speedos. Equipment on two of the cars was found to be out by between 3km/h and 8km/h.
The Subarus were approved for a life-long trial by senior police management, including former deputy commissioner Jeff Jarratt.
But an operation was launched, called Sibu, after the WRX faults were found. More than 100 highway patrol officers from the City East and Endeavour Region were interviewed and disciplinary action resulted.
One officer was issued a 181D notice by the commissioner to "show cause" why he should keep his job.
Other officers were ordered to move out of the highway patrol for six months over accusations that included not following service policy for the adequate checking or use of the cars.
The WRX revelations forced police to refund fines and restore demerit points for about 500 NSW motorists.
As a result of Sibu, Traffic Services decided to get all speed enforcement vehicles tested and switched over to an improved, "dynamic" method of speed calibration.
In a memo to all NSW police dated March 15 last year, now-Commissioner Ken Moroney ordered: "All vehicles used for speed detection ... are to have their speedometers checked."
In a subsequent memo to police Region Commanders across the state, dated May 9, John O'Donnell, acting commander of Traffic Technology said: "The review has identified a number of discrepancies in excess of the prescribed specifications."
It asked region commanders to "urgently" track down the last driver of the vehicles to issue a radar speed infringement and get a written confirmation there was an accurate correlation between the speedo and radar when they issued the fine.
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.