Improper Exercise of Police Powers

We have commented on the perversion of justice involved in the offer of speed awareness courses before (for example, on this page of our web site: It has been pointed out to us that this is made even plainer by the Guidance published by the Government on the application of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 – namely in Circular 2015/01. That contains the following paragraphs:

Section 26: Corrupt or other improper exercise of police powers and privileges.

  1. Section 26 of the Act makes it an offence for a police constable to exercise the powers and privileges of a constable improperly where the constable knows or ought to know that the exercise is improper. The exercise of a constable’s powers and privileges is defined as being improper where it is for the purpose of achieving a benefit for the officer or another person or a detriment to another person, and a reasonable person would not expect the power or privilege to be exercised for the purpose of achieving that benefit or detriment.

The offence also covers the situation where a constable fails to exercise a power or privilege of a constable or threatens to exercise (or not exercise) such a power or privilege and the purpose of the failure or threat is to achieve such a benefit or detriment and a reasonable person would not expect a constable to so fail or threaten for such a purpose. Exercising or not exercising the powers or privileges of a constable includes performing or not performing the duties of a constable.

  1. The offence is triable only on indictment and carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine or both. The offence supplements rather than replaces the existing common law offence of misconduct in public office.


So you can see that it is quite clear that the offer by police to waive an offence as an inducement to pay money to a third party (namely a provider of a speed awareness course) would be an offence. That is particularly the case where the police benefit in terms of the employment of themselves and other staff, or the provision of equipment, financed by kick-backs from the fees paid by motorists who accept the offer of such course.

Why the Government continues to permit such corruption is incomprehensible.

Roger Lawson

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