Blast From the Past

Monday, January 29, 2007

Police on Speed

I have already looked at taxi drivers, mobile phone users and those who dont wear seatbelts and not forgetting speed cameras!

What about all the stories we hear about how naughty the police are as we speed all the time. Sometimes without the blue lights and sirens.

Just to clear up to members of the public who may be unaware.

Section 87 Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984 exempts certain emergency vehicles from speed limits if observance would hinder the use of the vehicle for the purpose it was being used for on that occasion.

Basically, if sticking to the speed limits would hinder the emergency/incident, then the police (and other services outlined in Section 87) then they can speed.

This means that
  • Blue lights do not have to be used
  • Sirens do not have to be used
  • If a police car is speeding and doesnt have blue lights and sirens going, doesnt always mean that they are just speeding for the hell of it (obviously sometimes it does)
  • If a police car wacks its lights on overtakes you turns them off and bombs it off, they are not always late for the Kebab house run, they may be going somewhere urgently but dont want to give the fact away to who they are looking for.
Obviously, this leads to many problems.

1) The moaning member of public. This is the sort of person who goes out of their way to find a non story, and blow it out of proportion. Such stories include the caller complaining that the police car went through a red light "too fast" or just the fact that they did it, that they were not wearing a seat belt at the same time as having the person in the back of the car jumping all over the place (kicking off).
This sort of thing is something that happens quite often. This is one of the latest stories.

You might even get the odd disalusioned person saying things such as

"Speed cameras, and the way speed is being enforced, are criminalising everybody, but the police's own people are let off"

Nigel Humphries of the Association of British Drivers. Lets see what he says when his house is being burgled with him being threatened with a knife or a gun and to have the police stuck in traffic, or making at the speed limit from 20 miles away.

2) The more serious stories crop up from time to time which involve police vehicle accidents.
Apparently, according to the good old Home Office anyway, 126 people died as a result of an accident involving a police vehicle between 2000 and 2004.

Everytime a police officer gets into a car, they could be open to being charged with driving without due care and attention or even dangerous driving should something happen. Examples of this can be found here here and there are many times when a crash happens which injures or kills an officer.
Not forgetting cases such as PC Milton - these dont help in what the public think of police driving!

What should be done about it though??
How many times on an average shift do officers go to a grade one (blue light job). Many thousand times a day across the country. How many of these result in an accident?

What would happen if there was no exemption? People would critisise the police for taking too long to get somewhere, for not doing enough.

This just relates back to my good old theory of damned if we do, damned if we dont.


Anonymous said...

Blame the government for the stats! All response times are monitored, and if these aren't good enough the force would get critcised. If we try and get there quickly to make sure the response times are met and have an accident. We get critcised. Basically it's a no win situation.

Everybody wants the Police there straight away, for a job no matter how trivial, but they are then quick enough to criticise us for having an accident.

Joe. P said...

The problem the police face here is one of public perception.

Your average person goes about their daily lives without knowingly breaking any laws, not because they have to amend their behaviour to accommodate the laws but because the laws reflect what is reasonable behaviour.

One law is an exception to this. Speeding. The average driver goes at a speed that they consider to be safe and reasonable in the given circumstances, this often exceeds the posted limit. Therefore they consider the law to be inappropriate for them, even if, when asked, they think it is a great idea for everyone else. Coincidentaly it is a law that the police have a right to break, albeit with suitable training.

Combine a law which the police are allowed to break with a law that the majority of the public breaks routinely. Then enforce that law with traps and machines and enthusiasm. And Voila! RESENTMENT.

As a method of alienating the public it is pure genius. So don't be surprised when the public moan about the worst excesses of police driving.

totallyun-pc said...

That a fair point Joe. Like your style.

We face it daily. A busy Borough of London would often produce 40 - 50 (and sometimes more) Immediate Response calls A SHIFT! not counting the less urgent calls! Thats three shifts a day, seven days a week, not to mention proactive squads and Piority task forces. Anything up to 16 cars per shift!
One or two accidents in a month is not uncommon, but no accidents a month is often the norm too....

Do the maths. cos the media won't!

Anonymous said...

I am sure that incidents are already prioritised, but even so, it is incredibly easy to speed up response times without the need for the Police to break the speed limit.

All we need are more Police Officers out and about. Free the existing ones from paperwork (or give them mobile computer terminals so they can do paperwork while on patrol at quiet times) and employ more Police Officers.

That way, when CAD has a shout, the answer will come back "I'm just round the corner. Be there in a flash."

Police drivers may be well trained, but they are not superhuman. If they take risks, they will crash. Speeding means taking risks. This costs lives. More Police on the beat costs money.

I'd rather spend money than lives, and I am sure that the Police do not want to take lives.

It's down to Government priorities, budgets, etc. So let's tell TB and co what we want.

Billy Mc said...

I have to sat I agree with the blog, but let me also tell you of a friend of mine who was stopped doing 46 in a 30 zone by 2 bike cops. When asked which station she'd like to produce her docs at she replied "MY OWN", at which the bikers stopped writing, and the rest is history...

Anonymous said...

Im anonymous because I can't be doing with registering at yet another website.

Police cars speeding is a REAL problem, I appreciate the fact that there are reasons why a police car should be able to speed without blues / twos, but there is common abuse of this privelege.

Only the other day I saw a 4x4 police car driving particulary fast around a set of roundabouts (no blue lights etc) - he wasn't breaking the law at this point, but I was going the same way as this car and kept my distance, but kept with him... and as soon as the road allowed, off he went at 90+... then he noticed me in his mirror, and he slowed down to the limit of ~70 and at the next junction (it was a dual carriageway) he left the road. I just knew he'd rejoin and follow me, and low and behold thats exactly what he did... so I had a good giggle and carried on my journey at 50 with him following. When I eventually left the carriageway at the next exit he continued, accelerating away... now my exit then drives over the top of the carriageway and I could see that police car driving off at 105+ and there was NO REASON for it... total abuse of his / her position. the timings of his actions show his change of speed was to do with my presence rather than what was coming over his radio.

He had only slowed down from 90 because he had finally noticed me in his vicinity and once he thought he was out of sight of everyone, down his foot goes again.

This is just one thing of many that narks me about the police these days.


Anonymous said...

i can totally understand the need of police having to speed to get to an emergency but not the speeding without cause and having to sirens or lights. There was recently a case in Newcastle where a police car was apparently doing 50 in a 30 zone without lights or sirens. Folk were crossing the road and because of the speed the car was travelling at, they were unable to time their crossing safely. One of the girls crossing was killed. Maybe if the police car had the sirens on and lights, they would have had a warning, that girl would have been alive!!

Nigel Humphries said...

You completely and utterly miss the point. Nobody in the ABD objects to properly trained police drivers making safe progress as required. Quite the contrary. Its the rank hypocrisy shown towards others that we dont like.

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Anonymous said...

I Am grateful to the police and all they do for us but seriously just half an hour ago I almost lost my life to a police car doing at least 90 with no lights or sirens. It was dark and he came out of nowhere. I'm still shaking now, hence why I am on this site finding out wether this is legal. Yes there may be reasons for their behavior but if you almost get killed like I did you would think differently!