Police reject ‘easy target’ speed claim

� Edward Byrne Photography INBL1442-223EB
� Edward Byrne Photography INBL1442-223EB

POLICE have rubbished a

Dromore man’s claims that they have been “picking off easy targets” in the course of a local road safety operation.

Recent publicity surrounding the operation moved the Leader reader to accuse the PSNI of taking the soft option to catch speeders, in order to achieve positive press coverage.

“I was interested,” he said, “to read the article from the PSNI on their clampdown on speeding and the number of tickets issued.

“What they did not outline was that the tickets issued on the Banbridge Road, Dromore were 100 yards short of the national speed limit sign (albeit within the 30mph zone) outside a church on a Wednesday morning.

“I suspected at the time that this was to generate soft prosecutions to assist a press release but did not expect to see the results as quickly as this.

“Sadly this was not about road safety but generating a press profile and the PSNI would be better served targeting accident blackspots and in particular the A1 carriageway.

“It is a sad reflection of the PSNI priorities when they are more concerned about creating the false impression that they are targeting serious offenders but really picking off easy targets to generate press coverage.”

A disappointed Superintendent Davy Moore, of E District Operations, robustly rejected any suggestion that the road safety operation was a PR exercise.

“It is disappointing,” he said, “that our genuine efforts to tackle road safety issues like speeding, careless driving and drink driving are being met with ridicule. Our road safety operation is far from from a PR exercise, with two teams of police officers formed to focus specifically on road safety across E District (Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon and Newry and Mourne).

“These teams were set up as a direct result of our concerns around the number of people who have died on our roads this year - there have been 18 deaths in E District this year, compared to six at this point last year.

“Let me put your reader’s mind at rest - between Monday, 6 October and Sunday, 12 October, 70 motorists across the district received fixed penalty notices for offences including excess speed, using a mobile phone and not wearing a seat-belt.

“During these seven days, the road safety teams covered an average of 180 miles per shift; 14 motorists received advice and warning, 70 were issued with fixed penalty notices, six people were reported to the PPS and three people were arrested. One of those arrested was detected driving at 106 mph on the A1. He was subsequently charged.

“On the A1 specifically, 10 fixed penalty notices were issued, advice and warnings were given to four motorists, two people were arrested and two people were reported to the PPS for offences including excess speed, using a mobile phone and not wearing a seatbelt.”

Superintendent Moore said there was no doubt police hade consciously used media coverage of the operation to promote the road safety messages and deter motorists from speeding, not wearing seatbelts, using a mobile phone while driving and drink driving.

“We make no apology for doing everything in our power to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads,” he said.

“How saddening and frustrating it is that our road safety message still isn’t getting through to some people and that our efforts are met with derision and criticism instead of the support that would make our roads safer for everyone.”