Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Are Speed Cameras Robocop? (Original Posting 17th July 2007)

The EU courts have ruled that, in the UK at least, drivers of vehicles DO NOT have the right to silence. Since driving a vehicle is considered so dangerous, the right of silence is waived...but If I rob a bank with an AK47, maybe even shoot a few people, I have the right to silence!? One must be left wondering if they just want to be seen to be listening and acting in the citizens interests. While actually doing the governments bidding, speed camera's have proven to be an excellent source of revenue.

Can a speed camera determine if a crime was committed? A crime that warrants points on your licence, fines, imprisonment & loss of livelihood. The most advanced computers in the world can only estimate what the weather might do. Is this the sort of technology that finds itself inside a speed camera? Does a speed camera have sensors to take weather conditions, road surface, traffic volume (pedestrian/cyclist/vehicle), the drivers condition, who is driving and so on, then take all this information and calculate if a crime was committed that warranted a penalty, then what that penalty would be?? If I rob a bank I must go through the justice system and I might even receive no punishment depending on the circumstances. Yet the amount of man hours and legal training to go through that process and arrive at a decision is completely ignored in respect to speed cameras.

Is it enough to be just travelling over the speeding limit? In some cases yes and in others no. That is the truth of it. No liberal minded citizen can claim otherwise. That is why the justice system exists, not to print out speeding "invoices" but to give the citizen, presumed innocent, an opportunity to defend their actions. Then to be judged by his peers with all the available information being taken into account. The speed camera might be able to add to this process but it should not replace it.

Speed camera's are here to stay, but the role they fill is wrong. The person issuing penalties and warning at the side of the road should be a fully trained and experienced police officer, no matter how questionable their attitude can be at times no speed camera can out perform them. What surprises me the most is that the police officers (and unions) are happy to watch experience get replaced by expedience at the cost of the police forces reputation and image. Yes, they fall back on the terrorist threat reason...but should traffic officers be hunting terrorists or the intelligence services? The UK has been threatened in this manner before and they never had speed camera's then. The cars that ended up in London city centre loaded with explosives were detected by an ambulance crew that thought it looked dodgy, the second had been towed away for parking violation! Is this not evidence alone that more "boots on the ground" will always out-perform a NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) in the post?

The courts may claim that we do not have the right to silence, but as a citizen we always have the right to be heard, especially when one of the key aspects of the justice system is being eroded. What we really should start asking and looking for who is listening to us and who is acting on our behalf?