Police force defends speeding figures
POLICE officers in Essex were caught speeding on duty more than 5,000 times in a six-month period earlier this year, a new survey has found.The force topped a national league table for officers breaking the speed limit, triggering 5,269 speed camera flashes between January and June - a rate of 3.
POLICE officers in Essex were caught speeding on duty more than 5,000 times in a six-month period earlier this year, a new survey has found.
The force topped a national league table for officers breaking the speed limit, triggering 5,269 speed camera flashes between January and June - a rate of 3.26 offences per officer a year.
This compares with just 40 incidents recorded in neighbouring Suffolk during an entire year (a rate of 0.02 per officer), according to a Press Association investigation.
During the same time period, no disciplinary action against any officer for speeding was recorded in Essex. In Suffolk, 13 officers faced penalty tickets in the year from April 2004, as previously reported by the EADT.
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But Essex Police yesterday hit back at the figures, claiming the county had more speed cameras than nearly every other county and that officers drove above the speed limit to save lives and attend emergencies.
A spokeswoman for the force said: “It is oversimplifying the situation to try to make direct comparisons between activation totals [speed camera activations] in different force areas as there are so many other factors that need to be taken into consideration.
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“What this survey doesn't tell you, for instance, is how many cameras are in each force or where those cameras are placed, which can have a significant impact on the number of activations.
“The figures need to be put in perspective. Police officers drive under emergency conditions to catch criminals and to save lives, and cars en-route to one incident can cause multiple activations.
“We endeavour to provide the best possible service to the people of Essex and when someone is a victim of an emergency they need, and should expect, our assistance as quickly as possible. That response has to take priority over camera activation.
“Legislation gives an exemption to drivers of emergency vehicles in certain circumstances and every activation is assessed to ensure the driver has complied fully with the legislation.”
Essex has nearly 100 speed cameras while Suffolk has just nine.
Kevin Delaney, a former policeman and now the head of traffic for the RAC Foundation, yesterday called for all police forces to look more closely at officers breaking the speed limit.
He said: “The exemption rules are pretty widely misunderstood by rank-and-file officers as giving them a carte blanche exemption from the speed limit when driving a police vehicle.
“Forces with the lowest number of camera triggers and higher proportions of officers refused an exemption have clearly taken a stand on this.”