Police chiefs defend speeding fines

POLICE chiefs have defended their actions after it emerged just three per cent of officers caught speeding or jumping a red light were brought to book.

POLICE chiefs have defended their actions after it emerged just three per cent of officers caught speeding or jumping a red light were brought to book.

A total of 364 officers were caught by a speed camera while on duty last year, according to figures made available through the Freedom of Information Act.

Of these only 11 were handed a fixed penalty notice which would mean a £60 fine and three points on the drivers' license. It is not known how many of the cases related to officers responding to emergency calls.

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said in emergencies police had a duty to attend incidents as quickly as possible.

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But road safety campaigners said they were concerned by the findings and that officers should be setting a better example to members of the public.

A spokesman for Brake said: “Only in extreme cases should they be breaking the law on the road and even then we would argue that they shouldn't really be speeding in the first place.

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“It is hypocritical not to be punished in the same way as everybody else if they don't have a genuinely good reason for flouting the law.”

Managers have the discretion to cancel tickets if an officer can persuade them they had a good reason for speeding, such as pursuing a suspect or trying to find a witness.

Angela Mercer, secretary of Suffolk Police Federation, said although under road traffic legislation officers were exempt from the law in certain circumstances they should not drive recklessly.

She said: “Obviously police officers are ambassadors on road safety and we expect them to drive in a manner that equates with their skill, level of training and type of vehicle.

“They must drive reasonably and not to excess. The statutory exemption is to facilitate a prompt response for the safety of the public.

“However it does not ensure them any protection against compromising safety. If they fail to meet those standards then they are prosecuted.”

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary emphasised the tickets were issued to officers who were on duty.

“In each case the officer concerned would need to submit a report outlining the circumstances in which they were caught - for example attending a serious road traffic collision or assisting an urgent appeal for help from a member of the public.

“All of these reports are then considered by the force according to national guidelines. We aim to offer a quality service to people and the nature of policing means that in emergency situations we need to get to situations as quickly as possible.”

n. Do you think more officers should be fined for speeding while on duty? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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