Speed gun blunder could clear innocent drivers
PUBLISHED: 14:35 19 May 2011 | UPDATED: 09:09 20 May 2011
A police bungle which may have seen innocent Weston motorists wrongly hit with penalty points and fines for speeding has been unearthed.
Some drivers using Winterstoke Road, who have been caught with a handheld speed gun, may now have their penalties wiped out after it was revealed that a police officer failed to carry out the correct procedure when using the device.
At a recent hearing at North Somerset Courthouse in St Georges, magistrates heard from one Weston driver, represented by solicitor David Bird, who was accused of travelling at 50mph in a 30mph zone near The Range superstore.
He vehemently denied the charge, despite being shown the speed on the gun by PC Terry Hatton – but it later transpired the gun had not been calibrated properly.
Mr Bird said: “My client denied travelling at that speed and after it was found the officer had not tested the gun to the manufacturer’s guidelines, the case was dropped.
“I have very real concerns about the devices and the quality of the checks that are made and the quality of the training.
“The officer was very honest in giving his evidence, but unfortunately he does not appear to have had very good training in the use of the speed gun.
“If it is not set up correctly then it can show a wall to have a moving speed or can pick up the speed from another car.”
Mr Bird said he has dealt with a handful of speeding cases that have been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service after flaws were revealed in the devices, or the way in which the guns were tested.
He added: “Big questions need to be asked and there may well be other Weston people who have been given points on their licences when they were not speeding.
“But when people are shown the speed on the gun they don’t challenge it and not everyone can afford to take it further to court.”
A police spokesman said the officer involved had been taught correctly and the responsibility to train officers to the highest standard is taken seriously.
He added: “Since this incident was brought to our attention we have started to review other cases in which the officer concerned was involved.
“The officer, although having received training on using the device, may not have followed the correct operating procedure on this occasion and, as a consequence, will be undertaking further training and reassessment before using this type of equipment again.”