Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Glad there was never a chance to challenge any speeding fines

While I’ve no argument with the operating principles behind the various speed detection systems and methods used by the authorities to enforce speed limits, I do take issue with the attitude of those various authorities in their near obsessive belief, or perhaps policy, that they are absolute, are completely accurate in all circumstances, and that challenging them is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

While most people with a suitable background will understand that such system are accurate, that accuracy relies on a perfect operating environment, and perfect operators.

Need I say that in the REAL world, NEITHER of those criteria are satisfied in EVERY case.

I used to travel to North Wales regularly. The return trip involved travelling a long downhill road with a 40 mph limit. Then, I had a high profile German sports car that would cruise the Autobahn at 150 mph, and a radar detector because I knew I would be ‘picked on’. Coming down that hill, it revealed that, despite travelling at 40 mph, I would be ‘painted’ by police with a radar gun, regardless of the fact that I was being passed by other cars speeding down the hill.

It’s a pity that devices such as radar guns and speed cameras are administered by people unqualified to understand them technically, as they are seriously misled by the advocates of such devices, and the manufacturers of course, who promote such devices as being completely accurate. Sadly, that’s not the case.

There’s a good example of this mindset revealed in this quote which including West Mercia Police Chief Constable Anthony Bangham’s call for inaccuracy to be ignored:

Most police forces have a tolerance of 10 per cent plus 2mph above the limit before a speed camera ‘flashes’. So on a 30 mph road, a camera wouldn’t normally activate unless a car drove past at 35mph or above. Auto Express warn motorists that car speedometer inaccuracies make it difficult to measure how close to the threshold they are travelling.

However, last year, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead on road policing, Anthony Bangham – who is also chief constable of West Mercia Police which prosecuted Richard – called for the 10 per cent buffer to be scrapped. He also said speed awareness courses were being overused, and believes offenders should get fines and points on their licence instead.

Richard and Tim believe any such move would be deeply unfair given the potential problems with speed camera inaccuracies.

Man, 71, loses £30,000 of his son’s inheritance fighting a £100 speeding fine – but can the camera lie?

As noted in the opening, I’ve never had the need to challenge a speeding charge/fine, and I’m beginning to be glad I’ve been priced off the road., given the apparently growing proliferation and automation of such devices, and the apparent selective myopia of those administering them – ‘They MUST be right, if you were caught, you WERE speeding‘, end of story, no argument, no appeal.

The article referred to in the link is shocking, and confirms the worry I always had about the courts, police, and legal system, brainwashed by the manufacturers and advocates of speed detection systems with their claims of ‘perfection’.

Regardless of presenting a reasonable defence, the courts/authorities simply ignored it (my view as an accredited calibration signatory – I used to approve and sign fiscal calibration certification which could be presented in court as evidence).

The article includes a few examples of how these systems can report erroneous speeds of the subject vehicles, and, worse, how the systems themselves are poorly installed, with, for example, the supposedly ‘calibrated’ lines painted on the road (supposedly as a double-check or verification) not even being spaced accurately.

It’s a shame that we don’t seem to have progressed much further in removing operator error or bias from these systems today, than we were in the days of VASCAR, when systems also depended wholly on correct operating procedure for their accuracy, and careless operation of the switches used to set that system up on a piece of road could lead to it being inaccurate.

VASCAR-plus

VASCAR-plus

This system eventually proved to be so problematic, it was discontinued.

Note also the manufacturer’s accuracy claim (and even lack of Home Office Approval or testing) I referred to above – NOBODY with an interest, especially financial, should be allowed to verify such criteria.

Scotland: Police Halt Use of VASCAR Over Accuracy Concern
Police chiefs in Scotland, UK told not to use VASCAR to issue speeding tickets due to interference and reliability issues.

VASCAR

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in Scotland issued a memo Tuesday recommending that VASCAR not be used to issue speeding tickets to motorists. Although the “Vehicle Average Speed Computer and Recorder” is a thirty-five-year-old technology and has been replaced in some areas by radar and laser speed guns, it is still commonly used in the UK and the US.

“Until such time that the matter has been fully investigated, a memo has been sent to officers asking them to use alternative speed detection equipment,” Strathclyde Police Chief Inspector Andy Orr told the Aberdeen Press and Journal newspaper.

VASCAR estimates speed by calculating the amount of time it takes for a vehicle to pass a given distance. The police officer operating the machine flips a switch when a vehicle passes a given point and then flips it again when the vehicle passes a second point. The machine then displays a speed on a small readout. Because the device appeared to depend more upon the skill of the operator to produce a reliable estimate, UK police authorities never required Home Office Approval or accuracy testing for the device. Instead, the VASCAR manufacturer insisted that the “quartz crystal” performed a self-test allowing the device to establish itself as an accurate instrument for measuring speed.

That did not turn out to be the case for UK officials who recently uncovered reliability problems while working to integrate the speed detector with new digital radios and automated number plate recognition (ANPR) systems. The same officials had already known about the possibility for radio frequency interference. A 2002 ACPO test registered interference any time a radio or cell phone was used within six-and-a-half feet of the VASCAR machine.

“There is a potential risk of interference to Traffic Law Enforcement Devices (TLED) such as VASCAR from Airwave Radios and GSM phones,” a Devon and Cornwall Constabulary memo dated August 19, 2008 explained. “Officers should not operate a TLED from within a vehicle in the presence of a GSM phone or Airwave radio that is switched on, unless a ‘Transmit Inhibit’ system has been enabled. Failure to do so may compromise the integrity of any relevant prosecutions.”

Now Scottish officials fear the possibility that lawyers will seize upon the unreliability of the technology to undermine past prosecutions and force refunds.

Source: Speed-trap device may be faulty, say police (Aberdeen Press and Journal (Scotland), 2/4/2009)

13/09/2019 - Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance, Transport | , , , , ,

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