Police Vehicles Activating Cameras - 266/10
Dated: 07 Jun 2011
Date of request: 28/04/2010
Date of response: 21/05/2010
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 28 April 2010 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.
As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
Please could I be told how many times police vehicles activated safety cameras in each of the past two financial years. Could this figure be broken down into:-
a) activations with blue light showing
b) non-blue activations
c) activations that resulted in a speeding penalty
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
During the period 01/04/08-31/03/09 police vehicles activated safety camera's as follows:-
a) 2,722 had blues activated
b) 82 non-blues
c) Of the 82, a total of 32 people attended speed awareness courses or paid fine
During the period 01/04/09- 31/03/10 police vehicles activated safety camera's as follows:-
a) 2,894 had blues activated
b) 81 non-blues
c) Of the 81, a total 33 people attended speed awareness courses or paid fine
However it is important to understand the context for the figures.
Northumbria Police have approximately 4,100 police officers and 2,500 police staff, and we have approximately 900 four-wheel vehicles. The majority of these are in use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Road Traffic Act states: "No statutory provision imposing a speed limit on motor vehicles shall apply to any vehicle on an occasion when it is being used for fire brigade, ambulance or police purposes, if the observance of that provision would be likely to hinder the use of the vehicle for the purpose for which it is being used on that occasion". These include issues such as attending an emergency call, gaining on a vehicle ahead which they intended to stop and a multitude of operational issues. It does not state within these regulations that police vehicles have to use their blue lights when exceeding the speed limit. Blue lights are used to try and warn other motorists of the police vehicles presence when traffic conditions require it, but these can hinder operations such as for example attending burglaries in progress at night where the lights can be seen from a long distance. In addition, it is not always possible from the photographic evidence obtained from the camera to ascertain whether the blue lights were in operation as normal delay in the operation of the flash may not correspond with the operation of the lights.
We are strict in our interpretation of the legislation and once a Notice of Intended Prosecution has been generated we identify where the police vehicle concerned is located and require the driver at the relevant time to submit a written report to the Superintendent in our Criminal Justice Department in order to ascertain whether it is appropriate to claim an exemption. The reports submitted by police drivers are closely scrutinised before the decision as to whether a fixed penalty or summons will result and offences involving police vehicles will only be exempted from proceedings where fully justified and authorised by law and the authorisation is submitted through the driver's supervisor to a senior member of the area command or departmental management team. The authorising officer must be satisfied that the law permits waiving proceedings in these circumstances and is able to account to a court or discipline tribunal on the action he or she has taken
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