Speeding motorists face “postcode lottery”

12.00 | 21 June 2013 | | 8 comments

Motorists prosecuted for speeding in some regions are more than three times as likely to be taken to court, according to the results of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request (The Telegraph).

While the number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued for speeding offences fell by 6% last year, figures obtained by LV Insurance show there was a 10% rise in court summons. And responses to the FOI request show significant variations in police force policies across the country.

As an example, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire took 17% of speeding motorists to court, and the City of London 15%. At the other end of the scale West Mercia brought just 5% of offenders before magistrates, while Suffolk and Kent embarked on proceedings against 6%.

According to figures from the Ministry of Justice, the average fine meted out for speeding offences by the courts is £165, compared with £60 for a fixed penalty notice.

Jeanette Miller, senior partner at Geoffrey Miller, a firm specialising in motoring cases, said: “There are cases we have come across where drivers who we would have expected to be taken to court have just been offered fixed penalty notices.

“Police forces do have a certain amount of discretion on whether to prosecute or just offer a penalty or speed awareness course and perhaps this is reflected in the figures.

“It could just be an issue of the extent to which motorists themselves accept the allegation of speed or choose to challenge it in the courts.”

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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    The article implies that going to court and receiving a higher fine is unfair; surely the idea is a discounted rate for saving expensive court time? Unfortunately there are plenty of people buying tickets for this lottery, but that’s their choice.

    Olly, Lancs
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    I am not really sure that I understand the comment that “Speed cameras target the wrong people”. Surely they have no ability to discriminate between drivers other than the ones who are criminally breaking the speed limit. Hence it is the drivers who seem to be targeting themselves. The idea that such people who either don’t know the speed limit or don’t know how to keep to it are inherently “safe” is beyond comprehension.

    Rod King, Cheshire 20’s Plenty for Us
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    The point being made in the story is a very subtle one and something not picked up on by many people.

    Motorists are normally dealt with in one of 6 ways when detected speeding:

    1. Sent on a speed awareness course if it ‘low’ speed
    2. Accept a FPN if at ‘medium’ speed
    3. Sent to court if at ‘high’ speed
    4. Take the option to defend thier case in court (at any speed).
    5. S.172 for failing to notify
    6. Case dropped (for dozens of different reasons)

    The relationship between these options is worth exploring in more detail but is not actually covered in this article. Court capacity is often the limiting factor which will result in lots more #6 in an area.

    Wayne, Wellingborough
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    The weasel words in the last two paragraphs (“… perhaps this is reflected in the figures” and “It could just be an issue of the extent to which …”) suggest this is a non-story. At best, it is a pointless survey.

    Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans
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    There does appear to be a refreshing clarity and simplicity in what Stuart is saying. Who could argue with his logic?

    EDITOR’S NOTE: We have had many (some may say too many!) lengthy debates on this site about speed cameras/management. To try and avoid going over too much old ground I’m going to restrict everyone to one post only on this thread (I’ve had mine!) and will strictly apply the 150 word count. Hope everyone is OK with that.

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed
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    Speed or Safety Cameras, call them what you wish, only target people who are speeding. The thought process about driving at an appropriate speed for the conditions, even if some think that can be over the limit set, still means you are breaking the law, therefore speeding.

    I know it’s been said before but if you don’t speed you don’t get a ticket. If you do you can’t complain when it falls through your letterbox.

    Stuart Rochdale
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    It’s much worse than that. Not long ago a submission to a Transcom road safety report stated, with no apparent sense of irony, that the great majority of speed camera penalties were imposed on rather older, safe drivers rather than on much more dangerous younger ones.

    In general it is rather older drivers who drive greater distances, including roads and areas with which they are not familiar. Both factors mean that they are more likely to be flashed than younger drivers who for financial and employment reasons drive less and do so where they know where cameras are likely to be.

    In other words, speed cameras inherently target the wrong people – as well as targetting those speeding by only modest margins.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    Where would the newspapers be without their buzzwords and phrases? “We haven’t used “postcode lottery” for a while….have we got a story we can put it in?”. “No..but we could use a FOI request to generate one!”

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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