Force criticised over driving record
By Rebecca SheppardPOLICE officers and staff driving unmarked cars breached traffic regulations 13 times in a year, new figures have revealed.Suffolk police statistics showed its officers and staff who were charge of the force's unmarked vehicles had to pay up for 13 traffic tickets last year as they did not have a good enough reason for breaking road rules.
By Rebecca Sheppard
POLICE officers and staff driving unmarked cars breached traffic regulations 13 times in a year, new figures have revealed.
Suffolk police statistics showed its officers and staff who were charge of the force's unmarked vehicles had to pay up for 13 traffic tickets last year as they did not have a good enough reason for breaking road rules.
Road safety charity Brake criticised Suffolk police for not leading by example, but welcomed the punishment of those officers and staff who had committed traffic offences.
A charity spokeswoman said: “Police officers should be setting a good example by driving and parking safely at all times - they are there to protect the public, not put their lives at risk.
“While it's disappointing that a minority of police officers are flouting the traffic laws, it's encouraging to see that they are not immune from facing the consequences.”
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Marked and unmarked police cars are exempt from traffic laws, as long as there are just grounds for drivers breeching them, such as a crime happening or a life-threatening situation.
A total of 30 notices of intended prosecutions were sent out relating to unmarked police cars, which can be driven by police officers and police staff, and a further 10 in relation to marked police cars that had breached traffic laws.
Of the 10 notices issued to marked cars, all were cancelled as the officers involved were able to satisfy a senior officer that their actions had been necessary.
A Suffolk police spokeswoman said in the vast majority of cases this would be because they had been responding to a grade one incident - where life was threatened or a crime was in progress.
Of the 30 notices issued to unmarked cars, 17 were withdrawn because a senior officer agreed the action taken was appropriate given the circumstances.
But the 13 remaining tickets had to be paid by the officer of staff member in charge of the vehicle at the relevant time.
The spokeswoman said Suffolk police did not pay fines given to members of staff who breached traffic regulations.
Phil Smith, general secretary of Suffolk Police Federation, said he could not comment on individual cases, but added it was right that officers should justify themselves if they use an exemption under the traffic laws.
But he said the fact 13 tickets were not cancelled dispelled any fears that the police were simply looking after each other.
“The message is that, quite clearly, where they have been cancelled they have been cancelled legitimately and for good cause, as 13 were not cancelled,” said Mr Smith.
“There is a robust system. People will scrutinise the individual tickets on an individual basis. I am happy that those cleared were cleared justifiably.”