23 May 2007.
For immediate release.

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Police Chief "Out of Touch with Reality" on Road Policing
Meredyth Hughes (Head of Road Policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)) claimed that the ABD have "encouraged drivers to believe that there is something inherently wrong with enforcing the law" (Times article 23 May).
 
Hughes was announcing attempts to counter the increasing determination of the British motorist to fight speeding tickets through the courts - something that has been happening with more and more success as a groundswell of opinion has swung against speed cameras.
 
The ABD supports the enforcement of sensible laws against people who are causing danger to themselves and others. What is "inherently wrong" is the creation of bad laws which criminalise reasonable behaviour — laws which only exist because they can be enforced automatically.
 
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said
"Once again, ACPO have shown that they fail to understand what law enforcement is for in a democracy. Even the camera partnerships do not dare claim that laws should be enforced purely for their own sake — it's supposed to be justified by safety. It's supposed to have reasoning behind it. But it doesn't, and that's why people are fighting speed camera tickets with everything they have."
ABD speed limit expert Malcolm Heymer said:
"The problem with speed limits is that exceeding them is an absolute offence — drivers are unable to defend themselves by pointing out that either the speed limit is wrong for the road, or that the speed was not in any way dangerous to anyone at the time of the offence. The police therefore need to use their discretion about how they enforce the law — excessive, heavy handed enforcement has and will undermine it."
Speed limits should be used by the police as a simple means of prosecuting drivers who are driving in a dangerous manner. This is because it is very difficult to prove that something is dangerous, whereas proving something is over a given speed is very easy. Speed therefore provides a simple means for the police to prosecute dangerous drivers.
 
This is what used to happen before speed cameras were introduced. A time when properly trained police traffic officers used their discretion to apply the law to those in need of it.
 
The concept of not rigidly enforcing speed limits was understood as long ago as 1922, when the Chief Constable of the Birmingham Police Force addressed a meeting of the Midland Car Club, and was reported by the Birmingham Post thus:
"A new Motor-car Act was coming along as well. The Act of 1903 was out of date. the section limiting speed to 20 miles was to be abolished. There was to be no speed limit, for to put the limit at say 20 miles suggested to some motorists that that was the speed at which they were habitually at liberty to travel. In Birmingham he could say now that the old Act was likely to come to an end, they had never laid a speed trap. When the 1903 Act became law he issued instructions to the police that they were not to prosecute persons under the speed limit section, but to rely entirely on the first section dealing with driving to the common danger."
This concept continued through to the 1990's, during which period Britain's traffic police had the highest reputation in the world, and were respected by the vast majority of the public.
 
Unfortunately, under the stewardship of Meredyth Hughes, and his predecessor, Richard Brunstrom, the police have now totally lost the plot on road policing. They now prosecute anybody over a speed limit even when they are driving in a manner that cannot remotely be considered dangerous. They have become obsessed with the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law, and are enforcing speed limits for their own sake, rather than for road safety reasons.
 
Many police traffic officers have disappeared from our roads, and we are left with moronic machines that throw speeding fines at all and sundry with wanton disregard for driving skills, road safety, and police credibility.
 
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries said:
"Many drivers now have an instinctively negative response when they see a police vehicle on the roads. They no longer see them as a friend who will protect them against dangerous drivers and criminals, but as an enemy that is out to get them. They are raising their children to think the same."
Brian Gregory concluded:
"I regret to say that Hughes' comments show that the police no longer police Britain's roads with the consent of the public."

 

 
 
NOTES FOR EDITORS
 
Article in The Times

 
 
Notes for Editors about the ABD