Today the Mail on Sunday have published a good article on the issue of mobile phone use while driving, and the diversion of drivers to education courses under the headline “Fury as police say: send drivers using phones on course”.
It highlights the new increased penalties for using a hand-held phone while driving from March – a doubling of the fine and penalty points. The Government has written to Chief Constables asking them to stop offering education courses to such drivers but the reaction of Suzette Davenport, Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police, was to rebuff this advice. She said that “chief constables will make the decision on how they enforce it….”. This is what I am quoted as saying in the Mail article: “I am astonished the police are ignoring the Government on this. They seem to think they are a law unto themselves”. Indeed the whole scheme of “waiver of prosecution” in return for payment to attend courses was invented by policemen without any legal structure being put in place and without the approval of the Government in any way. It is exceedingly doubtful whether it is supported by law.
Ms Davenport is of course involved in the gravy train of making money from drivers by the waiver of prosecutions as she chairs the Road Safety Trust through whom the funds are channelled and is also a director of UK ROED Ltd who operate the NDORS scheme.
For the avoidance of doubt, let me make it clear that the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has supported stronger penalties for mobile phone use. Having said that there are circumstances when the police might use their long-established common law right to waive prosecution – for example when the vehicle is stationery in a traffic jam or there is genuine emergency. But the drivers should not be asked to pay a bribe in the form of an education course fee in that case.
The Mail article is present here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4168076/Fury-police-say-send-drivers-using-phones-courses.html