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TaxDonkey
Hiya,

I've got a court summons for doing 64mph in a 50mph zone (dual carriageway, spotted by laser-wielding London Met cop). In the officer's 'witness' statement he states 'Traffic conditions were moderately light Weather conditions were good with excellent visibility."

My understanding is that ACPO have released guidelines regarding how the police deal with this offence:

Speed limit: 50 mph
ACPO charging threshold: 57 mph
Summons: 76 mph

It also states: Note that these are guidelines and that a police officer has discretion to act outside of them providing he acts fairly, consistently and proportionately.

If I look up the ACPO definitions of fairly, consistently and proportionately ( http://www.acpo.police.uk/documents/unifor...safer-roads.pdf ) the only explanation I can see for receiving a summons rather than a FPN is in the 'Consistency' section, 7.3:

"For instance, it might be appropriate to issue a summons for exceeding a speed limit at relatively low speeds over the relevant limit on roads near schools at certain times of day or when there are
adverse weather conditions, whereas a similar offence committed in the middle of the night might merit the issue of a fixed penalty notice"

Now, fair cop, I was speeding. But as the weather was fine and there are no stated reasons for aggravating circumstances in the officer's witness statement, why wasn't I just sent a FPN, rather than being summonsed, which is contrary to ACPO guideline recommendations? The fines are higher, there's a huge amount of hassle filling out their MC100 form and just dealing with the paperwork.

Are summons instead of FPNs, against the ACPO guidelines, a regular occurrence? Is the officer needing to fill some kind of quota of court summons? Can I complain to the London Met and maybe have a FPN issued instead?

Thanks in advance!
southpaw82
You have no right to an FPN (not PCN). What were you given by the officer?
mrh3369
Once a summons is issued then you are heading to court, guidelines have no bearing in law as they are just guidelines. Were you stopped at the time? Perhaps you failed the attitude test?
BaggieBoy
If they want to issue a summons, then there is nothing to stop them, ACPO guidelines are not law. No chance they will cancel the summons and issue a fixed penalty.
TaxDonkey
Thanks for the replies southpaw82, BaggieBoy & mrh3369.

(southpaw82: thanks, yes, FPN, not PCN, d'Oh! Have corrected original post)

mrh3369: No, I wasn't stopped. I saw the police car as I came round the bend and wondered if I'd got nailed before I'd had time to slow down; then forgot about it until the NIP arrived in the post :-(

OK, so the ACPO guidelines aren't law, I understand that; but if the police can completely ignore them what's the point of them? Are they just a layer of PR to cover how much money is actually being extorted from motorists? People see the penalties that are 'supposed' to be levied, and don't realise there'll often be an additional 10% 'victim' surcharge and £85 'contribution' to the prosecution's expenses? What a swizz.

And people wonder why distrust and dislike of the police is on the rise... up until now I've always gone out of my way to help the police, and have given a lot of cash to various police charities over the years. I won't be doing that again.
Logician
Was there any delay in replying to the s.172 letter, such as caused by a chain of responses, what was the date of the offence and the date information was laid? Is there anything else you are not telling us?

Under certain circumstances the court may impose a sentence at the level of a fixed penalty, see para 3 on page 189 of Magistrates Court Sentencing Guidlines

where a penalty notice was not offered or taken up for reasons unconnected with the offence
itself, such as administrative difficulties, the starting point should be a fine equivalent to the
amount of the penalty and no order of costs should be imposed. The offender should not be
disadvantaged by the unavailability of the penalty notice in these circumstances.
TaxDonkey
Hi Logician,

Thanks for the reply.

No, I'm confident the s. 172 NIP got back to them within 28 days. They attached a copy of my returned form to the 'NOTICE TO DEFENDANT - PROOF BY WRITTEN STATEMENT' letter and there's no mention of it arriving late, either.

The Magistrates Court Sentencing Guidelines are interesting; does this suggest I should attend the court hearing in person and request they follow them? Though from what everyone has said so far, 'guidelines' in law don't seem to carry much weight :-p
peterguk
Out of interest, date of offence?
TaxDonkey
August, 2014
IanJohnsonWS14
QUOTE (TaxDonkey @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 00:02) *
And people wonder why distrust and dislike of the police is on the rise... up until now I've always gone out of my way to help the police, and have given a lot of cash to various police charities over the years. I won't be doing that again.



It wasn't their fault you were speeding.
Logician
QUOTE (IanJohnsonWS14 @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 07:56) *
QUOTE (TaxDonkey @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 00:02) *
And people wonder why distrust and dislike of the police is on the rise... up until now I've always gone out of my way to help the police, and have given a lot of cash to various police charities over the years. I won't be doing that again.
It wasn't their fault you were speeding.


The OP would not be the only one to believe that the police are there to catch other people and especially "real criminals"

Jlc
This seems strange... But nevertheless there's no defence just because it's a summons instead of a fixed penalty offer. As noted above the best plan is to attempt to request that a fixed penalty equivalent sentence is given. Worse case should be still 3 points, one third of relevant income, costs of £85 and 10% victim's surcharge (min £20).

Two other possibilities why such a case has gone to summons - some note was included when returning the nomination that cast doubt (or disgust) on the offence or the force were conducting a targeted operation (perhaps for a local 'hotspot') and have set a different prosecution threshold - but seems bizarre as the speed would normally qualify (just) for a SAC.

QUOTE (TaxDonkey @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 00:43) *
does this suggest I should attend the court hearing in person and request they follow them?

There's a better chance of them be followed with your attendance imho.
southpaw82
The guidelines exist to provide guidance on the exercise of discretion. If they couldn't be deviated from they would be rules and discretion would not exist. Considering they are followed in the vast majority of cases it can't fairly be said that they are a PR cover for extortion.
TaxDonkey
QUOTE (Logician @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 09:45) *
QUOTE (IanJohnsonWS14 @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 07:56) *
QUOTE (TaxDonkey @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 00:02) *
And people wonder why distrust and dislike of the police is on the rise... up until now I've always gone out of my way to help the police, and have given a lot of cash to various police charities over the years. I won't be doing that again.
It wasn't their fault you were speeding.


The OP would not be the only one to believe that the police are there to catch other people and especially "real criminals"

As I said in my first post:
QUOTE (TaxDonkey @ Tue, 21 Oct 2014 - 21:42) *
Now, fair cop, I was speeding...
What isn't 'fair cop' is to be penalised above and beyond the ACPO guidelines for no (apparent) reason, it seems to me. But then, that's why I'm here; to see if my opinion matches reality smile.gif

QUOTE (Jlc)
Two other possibilities why such a case has gone to summons - some note was included when returning the nomination that cast doubt (or disgust) on the offence...
From memory, I don't recall anything unusual except I was behind schedule and saw the cop and his radar. I'm generally a very courteous driver (though obviously in this instance going faster than I should tongue.gif ); I don't cut-up other drivers or barge into lanes, for instance. Now... if there had been some note when returning the nomination would (should?) this not usually be included in the Witness statement?

QUOTE (southpaw82)
The guidelines exist to provide guidance on the exercise of discretion. If they couldn't be deviated from they would be rules and discretion would not exist. Considering they are followed in the vast majority of cases it can't fairly be said that they are a PR cover for extortion.
OK, thanks, that (kinda) answers one of my questions - but, are they followed in the vast majority of cases? Do we know this? If so, it would be nice to know:
  • why they aren't being followed in my case. Would it be worth my contacting the police and asking them?
  • what I can do about it? Specifics welcome smile.gif
Jlc
QUOTE (TaxDonkey @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 14:25) *
Now... if there had been some note when returning the nomination would (should?) this not usually be included in the Witness statement?

Was there? Reports from resident SCP members have reported they have a 'summons pile' for those 'awkward' customers. (i.e. those that enclose something that is abusive or indicates they wouldn't accept a fixed penalty offer)

No reason for it to be included in the statement as it's not relevant to whether the offence was committed or not.
Logician
QUOTE (TaxDonkey @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 14:25) *
Now... if there had been some note when returning the nomination would (should?) this not usually be included in the Witness statement?


So obviously you did include some comment with the nomination, and that explains why it went to summons. What was it, some form of attempted mitigation or denying the offence but saying you would accept it to avoid the hassle?

The Rookie
One hopes it wasn't that silly internet letter asking for cal certificates, training details etc etc...... but I have a feeling it may have been!
TaxDonkey
QUOTE (Jlc @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 14:59) *
QUOTE (TaxDonkey @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 14:25) *
Now... if there had been some note when returning the nomination would (should?) this not usually be included in the Witness statement?

Was there? Reports from resident SCP members have reported they have a 'summons pile' for those 'awkward' customers. (i.e. those that enclose something that is abusive or indicates they wouldn't accept a fixed penalty offer)


Sorry, I don't understand this sentence sad.gif . I've googled 'SCP' but have come up with ambiguous results.

I can't recall any abusive correspondence with the police... though I have successfully challenged a number of wrongly-issued parking tickets over the years. But those have been issued by councils, not the police.
TaxDonkey
QUOTE (Logician @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 15:08) *
QUOTE (TaxDonkey @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 14:25) *
Now... if there had been some note when returning the nomination would (should?) this not usually be included in the Witness statement?


So obviously you did include some comment with the nomination, and that explains why it went to summons. What was it, some form of attempted mitigation or denying the offence but saying you would accept it to avoid the hassle?


Ah, sorry, it appears I completely mis-interpreted Jlc's sentence. When he said
QUOTE
Two other possibilities why such a case has gone to summons - some note was included when returning the nomination that cast doubt (or disgust) on the offence...
I thought he meant if the policeman had included some note of disgust when he was filling out whatever forms he fills out to refer something to court. Looking back that's obviously not what he meant! My bad! So, to clarify - no, I just sent in the nomination, with the bare requested details, without any additional note.
Jlc
QUOTE (TaxDonkey @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 15:16) *
Sorry, I don't understand this sentence sad.gif . I've googled 'SCP' but have come up with ambiguous results.

I can't recall any abusive correspondence with the police... though I have successfully challenged a number of wrongly-issued parking tickets over the years. But those have been issued by councils, not the police.

Safety Camera Partnership.

Council tickets are decriminalised and are a different ballgame.
southpaw82
Anecdotal evidence from the thousands of speeding cases on here suggests they are normally followed. You can write to the police and ask but you can't force them to issue an FPN.
Jlc
A FoI request could be made to get some overall statistics if the question(s) is asked correctly.
StationCat
Unfortunately, your only 'right' is to a court hearing. Both the Speed Awareness Curse and the Fixed Penalty options are at the discretion of the police - their is no entitlement in law to either.
squaredeal
QUOTE (StationCat @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 16:56) *
Unfortunately, your only 'right' is to a court hearing. Both the Speed Awareness Curse and the Fixed Penalty options are at the discretion of the police - their is no entitlement in law to either.

Having said that, for an August offence within the SAC eligible threshold, the automated process should result in the SAC option. In the circumstances, it would be reasonable to ask the reason for the resultant summons rather than the lesser options.
StationCat
QUOTE (squaredeal @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 19:37) *
QUOTE (StationCat @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 16:56) *
Unfortunately, your only 'right' is to a court hearing. Both the Speed Awareness Curse and the Fixed Penalty options are at the discretion of the police - their is no entitlement in law to either.

Having said that, for an August offence within the SAC eligible threshold, the automated process should result in the SAC option. In the circumstances, it would be reasonable to ask the reason for the resultant summons rather than the lesser options.

Indeed, a large number of forces / partnerships are using the national database system called Pentip which would automatically generate the SAC option. Does seem odd that it went straight to summons. Definately worth an enquiry to ask why.
TaxDonkey
QUOTE (squaredeal @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 19:37) *
QUOTE (StationCat @ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 - 16:56) *
Unfortunately, your only 'right' is to a court hearing. Both the Speed Awareness Curse and the Fixed Penalty options are at the discretion of the police - their is no entitlement in law to either.

Having said that, for an August offence within the SAC eligible threshold, the automated process should result in the SAC option. In the circumstances, it would be reasonable to ask the reason for the resultant summons rather than the lesser options.

Thanks for the advice. Have sent an email to the CJU asking for an explanation of why I've been sent a summons rather than an FPN.

Quite a few of the (other) people on this board who have responded to my post seem to think 'discretion' is a synonym for 'whim' ;-)
southpaw82
No, quite a few of the people don't agree with you that "guidelines" means "rules".
The Rookie
It's plain English surely, a Guide tells you something you should, or would be advised to, do, a rule is something you MUST do.
666
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Thu, 30 Oct 2014 - 09:52) *
It's plain English surely, a Guide tells you something you should, or would be advised to, do, a rule is something you MUST do.


Not according to the Highway Code. where some rules are MUST and some are SHOULD.

The Rookie
Did you have a point, that is a code, not a guide......so are you agreeing or disagreeing with me - I can't be sure. Or do I assume you are Captain Barbosa and a code becomes a vague guideline when it suites you?
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