There is currently a legal concern that demanding a driver say whether or not they were driving at the time of a speed camera offence, may be contrary to the right not to incriminate themselves pursuant to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Whilst the ABD condemns driving at excessive speed for the conditions, there is grave concern that the authorities are deliberately using some speed cameras, in conjunction with inappropriately low speed limits, purely as a means of raising revenue. There are examples of speed cameras being hidden behind bridge abutments on brand new bypasses on which a 50 mph limit has been imposed, despite there being no accident record and no hazards to justify such a limit.

Previously the ABD published on this page advice from a magistrate about defending yourself from speed camera prosecutions by declining to supply information as to who was driving the car at the time of the offence, pursuant to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Situation Report — 2000 December 6

Five judges have overruled the European Convention on Human Rights and said that police can ask drivers to incriminate themselves after having been photographed by a speed cameras.

Their opinion is that 'public safety' has precedence over individual rights. How this relates to being caught by a hidden camera whilst exceeding an unreasonably low limit on a perfectly safe road is, of course, not mentioned.

However, there remains a possibility that the matter may be refered to the European Court.


Earlier comments received from a solicitor:

He suggests that the advice from the Magistrate that motorists should ignore Section 172 notices is incorrect, and states that this has now been confirmed by the European Commission on Human Rights in the case of Tora Tolmos -v- Spain.

However, as the law now stands, the subsequent use of the information obtained by the notice WILL infringe Article 6 of the Convention, but a prosecution appeal in the Brown case in Scotland is pending.

We therefore believe that the previous advice given here is incorrect.

We therefore recommend that the notices must be complied with, but that you should include a statement along the following lines:

"I am supplying this information under duress and under the threat of prosecution.
Use of this information in any subsequent court proceedings will infringe my right not to incriminate myself pursuant to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights"
Reference is made to the Law Society's Gazette (16th November 2000 page 47).

The ABD cannot accept any liablity for any consequence whatsoever arising from following advice or opinion on this page.

The ABD would be pleased to receive further comment from the legal profession, or from drivers with actual experience of related cases. See Contacts.


This is the original advice provided to the ABD by a magistrate.

This must be read in conjunction with the above, and bear in mind that a magistrate is a layman, not a member of the legal profession.

The ABD cannot accept any liablity for any consequence whatsoever arising from following this advice.

Under British law you are entitled to 'presumption of innocence'. This means that you are presumed to be innocent until the state proves you guilty. The prosecution has to prove its case — the defendant need do nothing.

A car has been photographed exceeding the speed limit, the offence is committed by the driver, not the car. The prosecution has to prove that you are the driver — you do not have to prove you weren't. To get round this they send out a form asking the registered keeper for the name and address of the driver — and threatening you with a section of the RTA 1988 if you fail to provide this information. This is where, in my opinion, the whole thing falls flat. I believe that what they are doing is illegal — they are saying in effect if you do not confess to the offence of speeding we will convict you on a charge of not confessing!

The one thing you must not do is to provide false information — to lie. I would suggest that you complete the section with the words "I am unable to supply you with the information you have requested". DO NOT elaborate. If they ask you what the means just repeat the words. Do not confirm or deny you were driving. If they then threaten you with the Failure to supply the information charge, again say nothing.

Take the matter to court. Plead not guilty. The prosecution will outline its case and state that contrary to Section so and so of the Road Traffic Act 1988 you failed to supply such information etc. etc. After they have confirmed with their witness that you did not complete the form they will rest their case. You defence is simple. You state that supplying the required information is tantamount to a confession, and you are not obliged to confess to anything under the rule of Self incrimination. Threatening you with penalties if you do not confess is coercion and is therefore illegal. You can then rest your defence. If you are convicted of failing to supply the information inform the court you intend to appeal.

I wouldn't bother with a solicitor, they will only cost you money. If you feel confident enough, stand up and speak for yourself. If you would like back up, attend court alone and when the magistrate asks you if you have representation say no, and could you have the duty solicitor. The reason for this is that it will not cost you anything for that appearance.

Don't forget the only reason they have got away with this for so long is that no one challenged them. Now someone has, it looks like they are going to have to admit that what they have been doing is illegal.

 

2001-02-28
A website visitor advises:

I recently followed ABD advice on defending myself against speed camera convictions, to my delight I recieved a letter from Central Motorway Police Group informing me that:

"after carefull consideration of the facts,it has been decided that there is insuffecient evidence to support a prosecution for an offence, and no further police action is now contemplated."

2001-01-11
An ABD member reports
I took your original advice and refused to give details of who was driving, I was found guilty of "failing to furnish details" and fined £100 with £100 costs + 3 points. I had a clean licence for 32 years prior to this event! I am on your side 100% and feel that it is about time these "Revenue Cameras" were disposed of, or painted day-glo orange.

2000-12-15
We have been advised of one person who refused to incriminate himself on the grounds of the European Convention on Human Rights. He was fined £200 for failing to disclose who was driving.

PLEASE NOTE
If anyone else who has used any of the advice given here would care to advise us what happened, we will reproduce the information.
All names and places will of course be withheld or changed to protect your identity.

All cases are different anyway, so we advise you to obtain legal advice if you intend to contest the charge.


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