London, 14 Feb 2006.
For immediate release.

Contact the ABD

Press Release

Drivers Group Slams Police Bullying in Pursuit of Speeding Fines
The Association of British Drivers deplores the way Greater Manchester Police is bullying motorists into pleading guilty to speeding charges — even if they are innocent — through its recently launched 'Operation Cheetah'.
Every driver sent a notice of intended prosecution for speeding also receives a copy of 'A Book of Tricks', which warns drivers of the dire consequences — large fines or even imprisonment — of trying to avoid a prosecution by making a false claim. The leaflet lists several claims that have been made by drivers which the police regard as trying to 'cheat' the system. Where false claims are suspected, the police say that officers will personally visit the drivers involved at their homes or workplaces — a threat that is clearly aimed at intimidating the recipient.
The ABD's policy director, Mark McArthur-Christie commented:
"The ABD does not condone drivers making false claims in order to escape a speeding penalty, but some of the defences listed by the police — for example, where an illegally 'cloned' car has been caught on camera, or where the driver honestly cannot say who was driving at the time — may be perfectly legitimate. It is bad enough for an innocent driver to receive an undeserved notice of prosecution, without being subjected to the threats in this booklet — it should be withdrawn."

The Big Brother tone of the leaflet is typified by the following extract:
"We are constantly watching — don't become a criminal and risk prison for £60 and three points — it's just not worth it!"
That message exposes the real motive behind Operation Cheetah: under the cost recovery scheme that applies to the camera partnerships, enforcement costs can only be recovered from the £60 fines paid by drivers who accept a fixed penalty. If they go to court — even if they are found guilty — none of the fines levied can be used to pay the partnership's costs.
ABD chairman Brian Gregory said:
"This is one of the worst examples yet of heavy-handed police tactics against drivers. The government announced last autumn that the cost recovery system for funding the camera partnerships was to end — but not until March 2007. It is clear from Operation Cheetah that the camera partnerships are determined to make hay while the sun shines."

Details of Operation Cheetah can be found at Drivesafe
The 'Book of Tricks' can be viewed on-line at Pepipoo



Notes for Editors