24 December 2014

Cleveland Police Vehicles Exceeding the Speed Limit

Our Reference:
2014-009

Public Authority:
Cleveland Police.

Background Information:
We were asked to enquire about the circumstances in which Cleveland Police vehicles were captured exceeding the speed limit by fixed-position and mobile speed cameras since 1st January 2010.

The request was placed on 29th November 2014 and the public authority provided a response on 24th December 2014, which was just within the 20 working day statutory time limit. On this occasion the public authority disclosed the requested information in full.

Request by FOI By Proxy (sent 29th November 2014):
Dear Cleveland Police,

I am making this request under the terms of section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please provide the following information in relation to Cleveland Police owned/registered vehicles (Cleveland Police vehicles) engaged in routine duties (e.g. non-emergency duties).

1. The number of times Cleveland Police vehicles have been captured exceeding the speed limit by mobile or fixed-position speed cameras. Please provide this as an annual breakdown from 2010 to the present date.

2. The number of times the drivers of those Cleveland Police vehicles captured exceeding the speed limit were issued with a fixed penalty notice or summoned to attend court. Please provide this as an annual breakdown from 2010 to the present date.

3. The number of times the drivers of those Cleveland Police vehicles captured exceeding the speed limit were subject to no further action. Please provide this as an annual breakdown from 2010 to the present date.

4. In relation to the drivers of Cleveland Police vehicles captured exceeding the speed limit, where a fixed penalty notice or summons was issued (e.g. those disclosed in response to point 2 above): The maximum speed of a Cleveland Police vehicle at the time it was captured exceeding the speed limit, along with the speed limit in force at that time and location.

5. In relation to the drivers of Cleveland Police vehicles captured exceeding the speed limit, where no further action was taken (e.g. those disclosed in response to point 3 above): The maximum speed of a Cleveland Police vehicle at the time it was captured exceeding the speed limit, along with the speed limit in force at that time and location.

In accordance with section 11 of the Act, please provide your response in electronic format to the return email address associated with this request.

Many thanks for your assistance with this matter.

Yours faithfully,

[Name]
On behalf of FOI By Proxy
 
Response by Cleveland Police (received 24th December 2014):
Cleveland Police provided the following information in response to each point of our request:

1. The number of times Cleveland Police vehicles have been captured exceeding the speed limit by mobile or fixed-position speed cameras. Please provide this as an annual breakdown from 2010 to the present date.
  • 2010 = 18.
  • 2011 = 15.
  • 2012 = 19 (this is the corrected figure after querying Cleveland Police's initial response).
  • 2013 = 4.
  • 2014 = 2 (to date of request).
2. The number of times the drivers of those Cleveland Police vehicles captured exceeding the speed limit were issued with a fixed penalty notice or summoned to attend court. Please provide this as an annual breakdown from 2010 to the present date.
  • 2010: 7 Fixed Penalty Notices; 6 Speed Awareness courses.
  • 2011: 3 Fixed Penalty Notices; 11 Speed Awareness courses.
  • 2012: 4 Fixed Penalty Notices; 11 Speed Awareness courses.
  • 2013: 3 Fixed Penalty Notices; 1 Speed Awareness course.
  • 2014: 0 Fixed Penalty Notices; 2 Speed Awareness courses (to date of request).  
3. The number of times the drivers of those Cleveland Police vehicles captured exceeding the speed limit were subject to no further action. Please provide this as an annual breakdown from 2010 to the present date.
  • 2010 = 5.
  • 2011 = 1.
  • 2012 = 4.
  • 2013 = 0.
  • 2014 = 0.
4. In relation to the drivers of Cleveland Police vehicles captured exceeding the speed limit, where a fixed penalty notice or summons was issued (e.g. those disclosed in response to point 2 above): The maximum speed of a Cleveland Police vehicle at the time it was captured exceeding the speed limit, along with the speed limit in force at that time and location.
  • 2010 = 49 mph in a 30 mph limit - Worsall Road, Yarm.
  • 2011 = 45 mph in a 30 mph limit - New Road, Billingham.
  • 2012 = 40 mph in a 30 mph limit - Dunsdale Village.
  • 2013 = 40 mph in a 30 mph limit - Acklam Road, Middlesbrough.
  • 2014 = 36 mph in a 30 mph limit - The Spittal, Yarm (to date of request).
5. In relation to the drivers of Cleveland Police vehicles captured exceeding the speed limit, where no further action was taken (e.g. those disclosed in response to point 3 above): The maximum speed of a Cleveland Police vehicle at the time it was captured exceeding the speed limit, along with the speed limit in force at that time and location.
  • 2010 = 64 mph in a 30 mph limit - Redcar Lane, Redcar.
  • 2011 = 73 mph in a 50 mph limit - Queen Elizabeth Way, Stockton.
  • 2012 = 30 mph in a 30 mph limit - Oxbridge Lane, Stockton (the speed given here appears to be a typo).
  • 2013 = Not applicable.
  • 2014 = Not applicable (to date of request).
Supporting Material:
Material supporting this request can be viewed here.

Analysis:
We consider that most people will experience the misfortune of being captured by a speed camera at some stage of their driving career. It is therefore hardly surprising that the drivers of Cleveland Police vehicles have, on occasion, experienced that same misfortune.

It is reassuring to note that drivers caught speeding in Cleveland Police vehicles appear likely to face the same sort of punishment as any other motorist. Our attention is drawn to one worrying incident that appears to buck that trend.

Cleveland Police confirms that in 2010 the driver of one of its vehicles was clocked at 64 mph in a 30 mph zone. That driver faced no further action, which is alarming from our point of view. Of course it is entirely possible that there was some technical reason why no further action was taken - perhaps the camera had malfunctioned?

It is difficult to comprehend how anyone demonstrably travelling at more than twice the speed limit could escape any sort of punishment, police driver or not. Had a normal member of the public been caught driving in excess of twice the speed limit, would they also escape any further action? That seems very unlikely in our opinion.

In normal circumstances the driver of that vehicle would have been summoned to attend court and would have almost certainly faced a short-term driving ban if convicted. In the extremely unlikely event they avoided a ban, they would have received 6 penalty points on their licence. Either way they would also have faced a fine of several hundred pounds. Why then did the driver of this Cleveland Police vehicle escape prosecution?

It's a matter that needs further investigation, hence we have just requested additional information from Cleveland Police.

Edit: Read an update on this story.

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