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Against the Misuse of Police Waivers

A Perversion of Justice?

Is diversion of Speed Awareness Course Fees an example of Perverting the Course of Justice? In essence, in return for payments that at least part-fund the operations of speed camera partnerships, alleged offenders are diverted from the justice system.

We do not dispute that the police have the right to waive prosecution in some cases when an offence comes to their attention. This is common practice where the offence is trivial or there are extenuating circumstances. Speed awareness courses are only offered to those who are only exceeding the limit by a small amount and are not repeat offenders. However It is normally the case that if a police officer agrees to drop an offence upon payment of some money to a third party (particularly one connected to them), then it is a criminal offence however trivial the offence. A definition of “perversion of the course of justice” from the Police National Legal Database is:

“This common law offence is committed where a person or persons:-

(a) acts or embarks upon a course of conduct

(b) which has a tendency to, and is intended to pervert,

(c) the course of public justice.”

Listed below are a couple of the ways where conduct is capable of amounting to an offence (there are several others):

(a) Concealing offences;

(b) Failing to prosecute;

In the cases of which we are complaining, some police officers are surely potentially conspiring with the organisations that run the training courses to divert drivers from the judicial system in return for payments that fund the employment of themselves, other police officers or other support staff. Hence they appear to have a direct financial interest in this matter.

Note: of course anyone who accepts such an invitation and pays the requested fee is probably guilty of being a party to this conspiracy of corruption.

Improper Exercise of Police Powers

That the exploitation by the police of their powers to waive prosecution is a corrupt practice  is made even plainer by the Guidance published by the Government on the application of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 - namely in Circular 2015/01. That contains the following paragraphs:

Section 26: Corrupt or other improper exercise of police powers and privileges.

78. Section 26 of the Act makes it an offence for a police constable to exercise the powers and privileges of a constable improperly where the constable knows or ought to know that the exercise is improper. The exercise of a constable’s powers and privileges is defined as being improper where it is for the purpose of achieving a benefit for the officer or another person or a detriment to another person, and a reasonable person would not expect the power or privilege to be exercised for the purpose of achieving that benefit or detriment.

The offence also covers the situation where a constable fails to exercise a power or privilege of a constable or threatens to exercise (or not exercise) such a power or privilege and the purpose of the failure or threat is to achieve such a benefit or detriment and a reasonable person would not expect a constable to so fail or threaten for such a purpose. Exercising or not exercising the powers or privileges of a constable includes performing or not performing the duties of a constable.

80. The offence is triable only on indictment and carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine or both. The offence supplements rather than replaces the existing common law offence of misconduct in public office.

So you can see that it is quite clear that the offer by police to waive an offence as an inducement to pay money to a third party (namely a provider of a speed awareness course) would be an offence. That is particularly the case where the police benefit in terms of the employment of themselves and other staff, or the provision of equipment, financed by kick-backs from the fees paid by motorists who accept the offer of such course.

Why the Government continues to permit such corruption is incomprehensible.

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