Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

How too-fast cops beat fines

Exclusive: Only half the penalties for speeding police cars have been paid since 2008.

Tickets are generally waived only for police officers on urgent duty. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Tickets are generally waived only for police officers on urgent duty. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Speed cameras have snapped 3541 police vehicles whizzing past faster than they should in the past five years - but fewer than half of the fines issued were paid.

Figures released to the Herald under the Official Information Act show that between 2008 and September 24 this year, speed cameras photographed 3541 police-owned cars being driven faster than the local speed limit.

Of the tickets issued for these offences, 1660, or 47 per cent, were paid. A further 1675 were waived.

This year 570 tickets have been issued, and 254 have been paid. Of the rest, 183 were waived and 125 were "awaiting action".

National road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said the figures did not indicate the number of officers caught speeding while on duty.

"The drivers of these vehicles are not necessarily on-duty police officers. Records are not maintained of who was driving the vehicles for these incidents."

Mr Griffiths said tickets were generally waived only for police officers on "urgent duty" and responding to an incident.

The Land Transport Act 2004 says drivers must not exceed applicable speed limits.

But a driver would not be breaching the law if they were driving an emergency vehicle in an emergency, and was operating a red beacon or a siren, or both.

The fine would also be waived if a driver could prove their vehicle was "being used by an enforcement officer engaged on urgent duty and compliance with the speed limit would be likely to prevent the execution of the officer's duty".

In 2008, 675 speed camera infringement notices were issued and 289 paid. In 2009 the figures were 440 issued and 190 paid, in 2010 931 issued and 432 paid and last year 925 issued and 495 paid.

This year's figures were subject to change because of "offence statuses" continually being updated.

In January a police officer was fined after he was caught speeding on Auckland's Southern Motorway.

Superintendent Ted Cox was driving at 120km/h when pulled over by police on patrol. The speed limit on the motorway is 100km/h.

Mr Cox, who at the time was overseeing all of Auckland's specialist police squads including the armed offenders squad, was fined $120 and lost 20 demerit points.

He was off duty and driving an unmarked police car when he was stopped in Otahuhu.

Mr Cox used the car in both a personal and professional capacity.

When stopped he told officers he was tracking a vehicle of "operational interest". He has since paid the fine.

Speed camera infringements for police vehicles:

2008: 675 issued, 289 paid, 386 waived
2009: 440 issued, 190 paid, 241 waived
2010: 931 issued, 432 paid, 470 waived
2011: 925 issued, 495 paid, 395 waived
2012 (to September 24): 570 issued, 254 paid, 183 waived

- NZ Herald

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