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SPED CARS!

Byline: By Lucy Ballinger Wales on Sunday

Off-duty Welsh coppers are caught speeding at least every 10 days, we can reveal.

The figures uncovered by Wales on Sunday show that so far this year 34 officers from North Wales and Gwent Police forces have been fined for breaking road safety limits.

But the numbers for the whole of Wales are believed to be even higher as statistics for South Wales and Dyfed Powys police were unavailable.

Off-duty officers have to report any speeding tickets they incur out of work to their Professional Standards watchdog body.

Last night the partnership in charge of cameras in North Wales said the figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, proved no-one is exempt.

'The beauty of these cameras is that they don't discriminate,' said Esmaeil Ahari, project manager for Arrive Alive. 'A car goes through and the owner gets a letter through, whoever they are.

'We have a force-wide policy that if you are caught speeding you must report it. Our standards are supposed to be squeaky clean.

'Our Chief Constable takes it extremely seriously, off-duty officers are treated exactly like everybody else.'

Phil Davies, manager of Mid and South Wales Safety Camera Partnership, added: 'Police officers on and off duty have to comply with the law. If they choose to break the speed limit they face the same penalties as the public.'

In North Wales, where the force Chief Constable is controversial cop Richard Brunstrom, so-called 'king of the cameras', 13 off-duty officers were fined for speeding from November 2004.

During the past year, 21 police officers from Gwent Police have received speeding tickets, while during the past five years, a total of 98 Gwent Police officers have been caught by cameras.

A spokeswoman from North Wales Police said: 'We do not record the occupations of people detected exceeding the speed limit.

However, guidelines have been published internally requiring all North Wales Police employees in receipt of a fixed penalty notice or if subsequently convicted of a speeding offence to notify the Professional Standards department.'

But anti-speed campaigner Paul Smith, from the Safe Speed group, said the figures proved his belief that cameras are 'pointless'.

'I don't see how the police can expect us to obey laws they can't stick to themselves,' he said.

'The important thing is people are competent and careful on the road and stick to appropriate limits, you don't immediately crash if you go a mile over the speed limit.

'If responsible police officers are being penalised, it makes you think the speed limits are a bit pointless.'

Earlier this year it was reported 101 on-duty police in North Wales fell foul of their own speed cameras in a year, but only six were prosecuted.

The rest convinced their commanders that they had a valid reason for breaking the limit.
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 11, 2005
Words:472
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