A simple letter using legal wording has opened up a new route to get speeding charges dropped, according to experts. The statement is at the centre of a high court appeal to be heard this summer. but for now police forces accross the country are dropping cases when it has been used. People accused of speeding have been simply been sending in the statement in response to NOTICES OF PROSECUTION (NIPS).
Speed cameras rely on a law requiring you to say who was driving your car at the time of the alledged offence. Not saying who it was will lead to a charge of withholding information under section 172 of the road traffic act, While admitting to being the driver will lead to a fixed penalty for speeding.
But another law says that before suspects are questioned about an offence they should receive a formal caution - and no caution is given when a speeding notice is delivered through the post.
The standard statement below, is designed to accompany an admission to being the driver. It points out that, since no caution has been given, the admission cannot be used as evidence in court.
Specialist road traffic lawyer Robert Dobson whos clients case is to be heard by the high court says " In English law there's a requirement that if a statement is going to be used against somebody, that person has to be cautioned under section 78 of the police and criminal evidence act. If a caution hasn't been given, then the argument runs that anything that's said cannot be used as evidence in court. We've complied with section 172 of the road traffic act by identifying the driver. But what we are saying is that we're not going to allow that information to be then used against us. Any charge under section 172 must fail as we have complied. And if any charge is brought for speeding we'll say how do you know who was driving?"
The loophole letter called the PACE Witness Statement is a catch 22 for police and camera partnerships according to Dobson.
Even though someone has admitted to being the driver, that admission can't be used against him as he didn't recieve a caution. If an officer then visits him to issue a caution then only statements after said caution can be used and the caution gives the right to silence.
Forces have dropped cases all over the country. very few people who have used this letter have been convicted. The met and many more forces have not issued summons to anybody who has sent the statement back.
Remember different forces reach different decisions and there is no guarrantee that a case will be dropped.
THE PACE WITNESS STATEMENT
If your car is snapped speeding you will be sent a notice of intended prosecution asking who was driving. If it was you and you want to respond with a PACE statement fill out the form by writing "Please see the attached" where it asks for details. Then attach a letter with the standard wording shown below.
[INSERT THEIR REFERENCE NUMBER HERE]
[INSERT YOUR REGISTRATION NUMBER HERE]
DEAR CHIEF CONSTABLE.
Further to the above Notice of Intended Prosecution, I confirm That the following individual was driving the above vehicle at the time of the alledged motoring offence.
[INSERT ALL THE DETAILS ASKED FOR ON THE NIP HERE, INCLUDING NAME ADDRESS, DATE OF BIRTH AND DRIVER NUMBER]
As this statement is provided under the threat of criminal penalty (funke v France) and as I have not received the caution required by paragraph 10.1 of PACE Code C (Mawdesley v the Chief Constable of Cheshire (2004) 1 All E.R.58 ), I make this statement on the express understanding that it shall not be used or disclosed in any proceedings of whatever nature against myself.
[INSERT YOUR SIGNATURE HERE]
[INSERT YOUR NAME IN PRINT HERE]
Looks and sounds complicated but basically they can't use your details in court because noone said "you have the right to remain silent" and all that to you before they sent the letter out to you.
This was in motorcycle news and can be found at www.pepipoo.com
which is an anti speed camera campaigners website which is funding the high court appeal.