Police Laser accurate?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by cbbr, Jan 29, 2006.

  1. cbbr

    cbbr 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

    Jul 17, 2004
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    Two years and GBP30,000 on, speed gun victim is cleared

    (Daily Mail Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)WHEN police told David Jennings a laser speed gun had clocked him driving at twice the limit, he was convinced he was innocent.

    Two years later - and following 15 court hearings costing the taxpayer GBP30,000 - he has won his fight after an expert declared the roadside device was faulty.

    The victory provoked fresh demands yesterday for the controversial LTI 20.20 speed gun, used by police nationwide, to be banned.

    A Daily Mail investigation has already highlighted flaws in the gun.

    Campaigners believe thousands of drivers are being wrongly given speeding fines.

    Mr Jennings said: 'I believe my case is the tip of the iceberg and there are many thousands who have received tickets and did nothing wrong.' The 33-year-old teacher was recorded doing 60mph in a 30mph zone in November 2003 as he drove home along the A379 in Teignmouth, Devon.

    He said he was 'amazed and flabbergasted' - he had passed his test only six months earlier and was an extremely cautious driver who religiously kept within speed limits.

    Unfortunately for Mr Jennings, such an offence carries a six-point penalty - and because he was newly-qualified, he faced an automatic ban.

    In August 2004, he was convicted in his absence after being wrongly told he did not need to attend court. He had his licence revoked with the six-point penalty.

    A solicitor succeeded in quashing the conviction and the case proceeded slowly towards trial. Eventually, on December 22 last year, the case was dismissed at Totnes Magistrates Court.

    After studying a report by Dr Michael Clark, Europe's leading authority on laser speed guns, the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence.

    The mounted LTI 20.20 gun was being operated by a civilian police worker from inside a van and was linked up to a video camera. Dr Clark studied the video and concluded the gun could 'not be relied upon'.

    He said the gun had got the distance wrong when measuring Mr Jennings's vehicle and this would have caused a 'significant speed error'.

    Dr Clark said the speed gun was 'faulty and the police operator controlling it was 'not doing his job properly'. Last October, a Mail investigation highlighted flaws in the operation of the laser speed gun.

    Tests recorded a wall travelling at 44mph, a parked car at 22mph and a bicycle doing an impossible 66mph.

    The laser beam must be directed at the vehicle, preferably the number plate. But if the device is not held firmly on the target - a difficult task - the beam can move up or along the car, causing a 'slip effect' producing a false reading.

    Dr Clark said yesterday: 'The machine is a load of rubbish.' Mr Jennings's victory does not set a legal precedent, but it will give hope to motorists who believe they have been wrongly accused of speeding.

    Paul Smith, from the campaign group Safe Speed, said the LTI 20.20 is not suitable for use in prosecutions.

    He said that because an estimated five million motorists had been convicted using the gun in the past five years, the authorities would face a mass of compensation claims if they admitted it was faulty.

    Kevin Delaney, head of traffic at the RAC Foundation, called for the laser to be withdrawn pending the outcome of an independent inquiry.

    The Home Office refused to comment, but the makers insist the speed gun is reliable.

    The Crown Prosecution Service said Mr Jennings's case was discontinued only because of evidence that the roadside camera had not been adequately signposted.


    IMPORTED from America, the laser gun is used in nearly 3,500 mobile speed units, hidden in police vans or cars and mounted on motorbikes.

    Speed traps - nearly half of which use laser gun technology - reap more than GBP100million a year in fines. This is shared between the police, the Highways Agency, courts, the Home Office and councils.

    But more and more cases are casting doubt on the accuracy of the LTI 20.20 gun.

    Laser technology expert Dr Michael Clark was clocked apparently speeding four years ago. In court, he proved he had been travelling below the limit - and has acted as an expert witness for many motorists since.

    The case against Michael Hall, who allegedly did 41mph in a 30mph zone in Southampton, was dropped after examination of police video evidence showed the machine to be faulty.

    Former policeman Paul Cox was on the A303 dual carriageway near Plymouth when a marked police car passed him and recorded his speed as being over 90mph. But his car was fitted with cruise control, which had been set to just below 70mph, and he got his conviction overturned.


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