Is Diversion of Speed Awareness Course Fees an Example of Perverting the Course of Justice?
The Government stopped funding Safety Camera Partnerships. They are now dependent on local authorities to provide their funding out of road safety budgets.
Offenders allegedly involved in speed-related offences are being offered ‘Speed Awareness Courses’. Some Police forces have now arranged for some of the revenue from fees for ‘Speed Awareness Courses’ (many of which are run by commercial organisations) to be diverted to finance the operations of camera partnerships.
For example, Thames Valley Police (led by Rob Povey, head of roads policing) has arranged to receive money from the payments made for such courses, thus enabling it to reactivate cameras in that county and maintain the operations of the "safety camera partnership". This has been widely reported in the press and Mr Povey even made it clear in a video posted on YouTube by Thames Valley Police.
We question whether this is legal (we have seen no evidence that it is), and we certainly suggest this is ethically dubious.
In essence, in return for payments that at least part-fund the operations of speed camera partnerships, alleged offenders are diverted from the justice system.
Speed enforcement will again have the potential to become a major cash generator with the result that speed camera partnerships may once more be paying more attention to financing their own operations than to road safety.
Association of British Drivers Chairman Brian Gregory had this to say: "With the recent announcement that devices such as PIPS SpeedSpike average speed cameras have received Type Approval, the war on the motorist is likely to intensify.
Under the "Separation of Powers" principle, the concept of a ‘partnership’ between magistrates' courts and the police is contrary to every individual's legal right to be tried by an independent judiciary.
This latest development further undermines natural justice, and should be opposed by all right-thinking persons. We urge our members (and everyone who agrees with our stance on this topic) to write to their Member of Parliament and ask the Government to launch an Independent Public Enquiry into the whole topic of the effectiveness and funding of speed camera enforcement; so that this ethically questionable practice can be subjected to close public scrutiny and brought back under democratic control.
It is normally the case that if a police officer agrees to drop an offence upon payment of some money to a third party (particularly one connected to them), then it is a criminal offence. A definition of "perversion of the course of justice" from the Police National Legal Database is:
"This common law offence is committed where a person or persons:-
(a) acts or embarks upon a course of conduct
(b) which has a tendency to, and is intended to pervert,
(c) the course of public justice."
Listed below are a couple of the ways where conduct is capable of amounting to an offence (there are several others):
(a) Concealing offences;
(b) Failing to prosecute;
In the cases we are complaining about, some police officers are surely potentially conspiring with the organisations that run the training courses to divert drivers from the judicial system in return for payments that fund the employment of themselves, other police officers or other support staff. Hence they appear to have a direct financial interest in this matter.
The video posted by Thames Valley Police on YouTube: