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Notifying other drivers of speed cameras is an offence?
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wetsleet
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:26 pm    Post subject: Notifying other drivers of speed cameras is an offence? Reply with quote

It seems that notifying other drivers about mobile speed cameras is an offence. Where does this leave speed camera databases - what in principle is the difference between flashing your headlamps to warn other drivers about the presence of a mobile speed camera, and achieving the same end via the more circuitous route of placing the same information on a database?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-humber-12115179
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BigPerk
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The point is that a mobile camera has a police(wo)man attached - if you warn other drivers then I believe the offence is because you are impeding him/her in the execution of their duty. The fact that they are using a camera is really beside the point - if they are doing anything "official" which someone flashed their lights to others as a warning, I think the same would apply.

A fixed camera (usually!) lives on its own.
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MaFt
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

also see comments here: http://www.pocketgpsworld.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=85670

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Darren
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Notifying other drivers of speed cameras is an offence? Reply with quote

wetsleet wrote:
It seems that notifying other drivers about mobile speed cameras is an offence.

Not quite, obstructing a Police Officer is an offence. That is quite different to using a GPS based database of locations.

The use of databases such as ours is not forbidden but it has always technically been unlawful to take steps to physically forewarn other motorists of the presence of a speed trap.
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MaFt
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Notifying other drivers of speed cameras is an offence? Reply with quote

Darren wrote:
The use of databases such as ours is not forbidden but it has always technically been unlawful to take steps to physically forewarn other motorists of the presence of a speed trap.


where would that leave people like TomTom and Waze who purport to offer 'live mobile locations'? isn't that also warning other drivers of the presence of a speed trap?

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Darren
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The legal technicalities behind the offences of obstruction or perverting the course of justice are complex but in simple terms, to commit the offence of obstruction you need to commit an act of intentional interference.

In the case of speed traps and the like, (and my Police Law is very rusty these days) that used to mean you had to give some direct alert to someone who was committing an offence at that time thus preventing them from being apprehended.

A GPS warning device or live alerts are not an 'intentional interference' and they could not be directed directly at someone who was speeding into a speed trap. They merely act in the same way as a speed sign or speed camera sign and serve to remind drivers to check their speed.

As far as the Road Safety Bill is concerned, it specifically allows for and permits GPS based alerts in law but, the issue of live alerts had not been considered when the Bill was first drafted. However, as I've attempted to explain, I doubt very much whether an offence of obstruction would be committed but it would require a test prosecution or a clarification in law to be 100% certain.
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Andy_P
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The point I tried to make in the other topic was that the so-called offence was "of wilfully obstructing a police officer in the course of her duties"; when surely he did nothing of the sort?

The officer with the speed gun could continue doing what she was doing perfectly well, couldn't she? The man's actions were not affecting her at all, it's just that less offences would occur.
I could understand it if they prosecuted for 'perverting the course of justice' but not obstruction.

So...taking this speed trap example
A police officer is HOPING to catch someone doing something wrong
Someone stops that person doing it, thus thwarting the officer.
That's an offence?

OK... lets take it to extremes
A police marksman with a REAL gun is told there is a dangerous armed villain in a pub and so he stakes out the exit.
Are we really saying that if a member of the public were to disarm the villain and therefore prevents the officer from shooting him soon after,
then that's "Obstructing an officer in the course of his duty" as well and the hero is guilty of an offence? Shocked

If that's too extreme, you could tone it down.
How about an officer with a breathalyser machine sitting outside a pub, and a drunk inside who's mate tells him not to drive home.
Same thing - the drunk avoids committing a crime but the copper is deprived of his chance to nick someone. Is the friend guilty of "Obstruction"??

I'm afraid I can't see the difference.


Last edited by Andy_P on Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Darren
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think your taking this a little too far. Law is always open to interpretation and in the case under discussion, the courts thought the offence had been committed.
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Andy_P
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, I added some more while you were posting Darren....

Oh, and you changed your post too....

I think my parallels show it to be a wrong conviction.
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Darren
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If someone told a drunk in a pub to go left out of the car park when driving home so as to avoid a police trap, then that would be an offence.

Whether you agree with the use of this legislation here is of course open to debate. We don't know the full story of course but unless he had parked up 100yds ahead and spent 20mins warning every approaching driver then I'm surprised he was dealt with.

We can all see why the legislation exists but I too fail to see why it was felt necessary to use it here.
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Darren
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy_P wrote:
I think my parallels show it to be a wrong conviction.

CPS brought a successful case, defence solicitors failed to provide a solid defence. I don't think any of us are in possession of sufficient facts to draw any firm conclusions here and the legislation has been used before in just such circumstances.
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Andy_P
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darren wrote:
If someone told a drunk in a pub to go left out of the car park when driving home so as to avoid a police trap, then that would be an offence.

That makes perfect sense.
but I still think that should be "perversion..." rather then "obstruction..."

Darren wrote:

We can all see why the legislation exists but I too fail to see why it was felt necessary to use it here.


Excellent, I can go to bed at peace! Laughing
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Duddy
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The prosecuted driver just didn't give the correct reply when challenged by the police surely he would only be warning speeding drivers they were exceeding the speed limit just like the protesters who hold up signs to motorists they believe are driving too fast.

Some years ago I was waiting to give evidence, in court, when the previous case was heard with similar circumstances to the above, the defendant said he believed the other drivers were driving too fast and was admonishing them. The Magistrates dismissed the case, with costs, as "No case to answer".

On the other-hand I once was operating speed radar on the Manchester/ Stockport border and noticed some drivers flashing their headlights as they were passing through my radar at well over the 40 mph limit. I walked to the border (which is a slightly humped bridge over the Mersey) and saw the Stockport Traffic unit radar checking in the opposite direction, drivers were headlight flashing in both directions AND exceeding the speed limit, I seem to remember the number of prosecutions, that day, were the highest for a long time. Confused
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BigPerk
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think also it's the CPS that has the crucial role in making the decision to prosecute, rather than the police. And they seem to prefer to try to chase (relatively!!) minor and petty, but 'easy' cases, as here, justifying them as "in the public interest". Yet they decide NOT to pursue some complex, but major, VERY high profile cases - but there, citing "unlikely to get a conviction".

All very plausible perhaps, but smelling of a rather unbalanced view of justice and the real 'public interest'.

And they also said here "cost is not a consideration". Well, in these difficult economic times, with government cuts coming everywhere, it should be. I personally would like to see the CPS departmental budget cut by 20-30%, for all the public good they seem to do.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BigPerk wrote:
And they also said here "cost is not a consideration".

That made me raise my eyebrows too. Yes, in important cases then cost should never prevent justice, but in cases such as these, cost should damn well be an issue. It make a mockery to expend so much money and waste the time of CPS, Courts, Police and witnesses for matters such as this.
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