MCN campaign for justice

One year almost to the day since we used speed camera photos to a prove a reader facing prosecution was innocent, MCN is launching a campaign to stop camera authorities withholding similar photos from other riders.

We’re also demanding proper tests are conducted to see whether speed cameras work on bikes in the first place.

We revealed two weeks ago (December 2006) Staffordshire Casualty Reduction Partnership had adopted a policy of withholding photos from riders accused of speeding, claiming they were guilty until proven innocent.

Two photos taken by a Gatso can be used to verify the accuracy of the device’s radar speed measurement speed by making a simple distance-over-time calculation but the partnership said it would only provide one.

A spokeswoman refused to provide a reason, saying only: “The onus is on the driver of the vehicle to prove their innocence, not on the Partnership to prove guilt.”

Since then MCN has learned of other camera authorities doing the same thing. A recorded message on Warwickshire Casualty Reduction Partnership’s automated enquiry line tells callers: “There is no obligation for Warwickshire Police to make advance disclosure of photographic evidence.”

Both partnerships, which are made up of police and local authorities, say they will only provide photos to riders who challenge the accusations in court and warn that doing so could entail a fine of £1,000 or more and double the usual penalty points.

MCN reader Steve Carey, who was refused access to Gatso photos in a letter from Warwickshire Casualty Reduction Partnership, said: “They said they would only be supplied if I went to court and pleaded not guilty, with the usual threats of a £1000 fine and six points.”

No-one at the partnerships was available for comment last week.

Drivers are also refused access to photos but they at least have the assurance that the equipment has been tested for accuracy on cars.

The Home Office admitted to MCN over a year ago that no such accuracy tests are done on bikes. Since then nothing has been done to rectify the situation.

In response to an enquiry made under the Freedom of Information Act, the Home Office said in August that it was “not considered necessary” for its type approval tests “to include tests specifically on motorcycles”.

With regard to police tests, it said: “No tests are defined specifically for motorcycles.” It means riders are being convicted based on evidence they have no reason to trust but cannot challenge without risking penalties they may not be able to afford.

Now MCN is determined to stop the injustice by joinining forces with biker MP Lembit Opik and as many of you as possible for a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament timed to co-incide with the MCN London Motorcycle Show at Excel, beginning on February 1, 2007.

Opik, Lib Dem MP for Montgomeryshire, has promised to raise the issue with Home Secretary John Reid.

Opik said: “I’m absolutely determined that we ensure that the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is applied.”

MCN’s demands are simple. We want:

• New national guidelines for speed camera partnerships requiring that both Gatso photos are submitted to riders on request.

• The inclusion of accuracy tests on motorcycles in speed camera type approval tests.

We’re also organising an online petition to Tony Blair demanding all speeding fines be levied against motorcyclists are frozen until such time that the Government tests all speed detection equipment for use specifically on motorcycles.

There are already over 1000 signatures and you have until January 12 to add yours at petitions.pm.gov.uk/SpeedingFines

We’ll bring you more details on our demo plans in the new year.

For details on the MCN London Motorcycle Show, visit www.londonmotorcycleshow.com

Let us know your thoughts on this story. Do you agree with MCN's campaign plans? email us at mcn@emap.com

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By MCN

The voice of motorcycling since 1955