Queen’s Speech – Waivers are Still Illegal

Readers of this blog will be aware that a Bill was going through Parliament before the General Election that aimed to make the offering by the police of waivers in return for attending an “education” course undoubtedly legal (after speeding and other road traffic offences). Or at least it aimed to clarify the law because we have argued it was a perversion of justice and illegal on other grounds, i.e. the whole speed awareness cash cow and the associated industry was a corruption of English law.

That Bill was called the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill but was abandoned when the last Parliament ended. Is a revised or resubmitted version in the Queen’s Speech for the new Parliament – given in the House yesterday? Or has it been crowded out by all the Brexit legislation and other popular measures?

The answer in brief is that it is not clear. There is a new Bill proposed called the “Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill” which certainly covers some of the aforementioned abandoned Bill. Whether the additional “Courses Offered as an Alternative to Prosecution” clauses will be snuck into that Bill again, as it was into the previous Bill, we will have to wait and see. An inquiry to the Department of Transport elicited a response of “we don’t know and neither do we know when the Bill might be published”.

As it may anyway take some time to get through Parliament, readers can assume that it is still a matter that would be vulnerable to a legal challenge in the meantime. But let us hope that condoning bribery of the police to waive prosecution is not added to the Bill so it does not set a dangerous precedent in English law.

In the meantime, if you are offered a speed awareness or other education course, you may care to ask the ABD for a suggested response. For the avoidance of doubt, and to remind you, the ABD opposes such waivers and payments because they are financing the increases in speed cameras and resulting rises in prosecutions. This has nothing to do with road safety and everything to do with profiteering by the police, course operators and others involved in this industry. See www.speed-awareness.org for the evidence.

Roger Lawson

No More Waivers for Mobile Phone Use

As part of the measures to toughen up the penalties for mobile phone use by drivers, the Government has announced that the offer of “education courses” to first time offenders will be stopped.

Just as with speeding offences, some police forces are offering waivers to drivers caught using a mobile phone if they attend a training course. In that way the driver avoids a fine and penalty points, and the police collect money from the course fee.

But the Government considers these offences so serious that they wish to increase the deterrent. In addition they are doubling the fines and doubling the penalty points.

Note that the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) strongly supports tough penalties for this offence. The increasing number of distractive devices in cars is surely one of the causes of the “failed to notice” accidents that are one of the top factors in police reports of accidents. But everyone surely knows that using a hand-held mobile device is illegal so there is little excuse for this offence.

But do we not have a dual standard here when waivers for speeding are still a major money making industry? Surely they must be stopped also if speeding is so serious offence to warrant prosecution?

Roger Lawson

Police Waivers and Education Courses for Cyclists

It’s not just motorists who are being offered education courses as an alternative to a fine for breaking the law. Cyclists in the City of London have been targeted for riding without lights under a campaign named “Operation Atrium”. When they are issued a fixed penalty notice they can have it waived by attending an education course. In addition they get given some free lights.

In October (when the clocks change and cycles tend to be riding home without lights), there were 176 cyclists issued FPNs and 58 attended a course.

It has become clear that the police now consider the use of waivers on an industrial scale for motoring offences so successful, and bearing in mind there have been no legal challenges over the practice, that they are extending it to all sorts of other crimes as well.

Roger Lawson