Saturday, 21 August 2010

Some odd decisions

Superintendent Helen Chamberlain of Nottinghamshire Police (the cool blonde pictured left) was clocked by a fellow officer allegedly doing 79mph on the Epperstone bypass. Story here.

She has pleaded not guilty on the basis that she challenges the accuracy of the speed-gun, and the quality of the signage on the road. Her solicitor has also mentioned the decision to review the case after the event. The story is made more intriguing by the fact that the officer who clocked her and stopped her at the time felt able to deal it with by way of a caution, but an unnamed senior officer disagreed with this, and asked the Crown Prosecution Service to review the decision. They duly charged.

Doing nearly 30mph over the speed limit should see you summonsed to court. At the very least a fixed penalty should have been issued. So there's a questionable decision. But what I find most surprising is that she's now going to run a technical defence - something that frustrates the police when civilian punters try it on. She must surely have known she was driving over the limit. Even if the signage wasn't up to scratch (though I've driven that road plenty of times and have never been in any doubt it's a 50 limit), the limit on two-lane roads is only ever 60 at maximum. Unless the speed-gun was hopelessly inaccurate, it's hard to accept that a competent driver would not have been aware of going over the odds. And we note that there's no suggestion she disputed the roadside caution at the time.

Man up, Superintendent (if you'll pardon the expression, ma'am) and hold your hand up. The honest course of action would have been to enter a guilty plea but then argue that the speed wasn't as high as charged. "OK, I done it, but I didn't do it as bad as what they say", sort of thing. The court would then tailor its sentence depending on the outcome of a 'Newton' hearing to decide whether or not the alleged speed was correct. That would have been fair enough, albeit that a senior police officer would effectively be establishing her own force's technical incompetence, but as things stand it leaves a rather unpleasant taste in my mouth.

Let's see if some beer will help.


  1. Not being a driver I can only say that one rule for all seems the fairest idea.

  2. That is one of the few advantages about speed cameras - no favours allowed!

  3. I have an automatic speed detector in my car so that no matter what conditions you are driving in and irrespective of the type of road, you always know how fast you're going.

    It's called a speedometer.

    Perhaps more people should get one.

  4. Alan, apologies for the late appearance of your comment - Blogger spammed it for some reason and I've only just found it.