Thursday, 20 February 2014

A tactical mistake

Well, this is a bit annoying. More than a bit. I'm talking about that speeding business. If you remember, on 5 February I was caught on camera doing 61 mph on a 50 mph stretch of country road. Very soon afterwards I received a Notice of Intended Prosecution in the post. I had to confirm that I was the driver. I replied at once, saying that I was indeed the driver, and I attached a covering letter, as follows:

8 February 2014

Driver Diversion Team
Kent Police Headquarters
Sutton Road
ME15 9BZ

Dear Sirs

Notice of Intended Prosecution no. 47644753
Excess speed offence: 61mph recorded as the speed of my car on a 50mph section of the A228 road, on 5 February 2014

I attach a completed Section 172 (Driver/Keeper) Statement. I cannot argue with the speed measured by the Police camera van. I had just left a dual-carriageway section of the A228, had slowed for the roundabout (that was the junction with the B2015), and had picked up speed again when the offence occurred. I know it’s no good saying that I was running behind time, wasn’t a local person, and that this was a fast, clear section of road on which one might assume a 60mph limit. I’ve had a look at Street View on Google Maps - and there is a 50mph sign plainly visible as you come off the roundabout and enter the section of road on which I was seen speeding. I should have heeded it. I’m very sorry that I failed to do so.

This is my first speeding notice since 2003. I’ve been discussing the incident with my cousin, who lives at Rainham (near Gillingham), and she tells me that an elderly neighbour of hers was recently caught in the same way, but was offered the chance of a Speed Awareness Course instead of formal proceedings. Apparently the Kent Police are keen on re-educating drivers who are not habitual offenders. Could you consider this in my case, please? I do understand that the cost of the course, with travel and parking added, will actually exceed the fine that might otherwise be imposed - but I am willing to attend, and believe I would benefit.   

Yours faithfully

Miss Lucy Melford

That was on 8 February. It's now 20 February. It's about time that they replied, to let me know my fate. I'm almost certain (having researched this on the Internet) that the Speed Awareness Course will not be offered, and that I'll get three penalty points on my driving licence, plus a £100 fine. So be it. I'm ready to comply. I want to get it over and done with. In particular I don't this hanging over me for weeks - or months. I have read somewhere on the Internet that the police have up to six months after the offence to bring this to court. Six months! Yikes! I don't really think I face a court appearance, not for a straightforward speeding offence, but you do wonder why they haven't requested that £100 sooner. Do they have something else in mind? What, for instance? I had difficulty getting to sleep last night, imagining that somehow the offence had been enlarged and exaggerated, and that I was on trial for my life and liberty. Unrepresented too. Disturbing. It's on my mind constantly. 

The postman is due shortly. Come on, let me know the worst.

My speed-observance while driving has of course become impeccable. But it's a compliance born of fear. Despite sticking to the speed limit being the correct thing to do, I've already been hooted by other drivers for going 'too slow'. And paranoia about exceeding the limit, even by a little, means that I'm giving the speedometer a dangerous amount of attention. My eyes should be on the road. 

Perhaps the letter was a tactical mistake. Perhaps it has thrown a spanner in the works, complicating things so that so that the matter can't be routinely processed. Some clerk has wondered what to do. So the completed form attached to the letter has been logged in (at least I hope it has) then popped into a big tray marked 'Decision Needed'. Later on (who knows when) some more senior functionary will go through a mighty pile of letters like mine, with a big sigh. I can see that my letter might tend to puzzle him. What am I saying? That I did it all right? That's all he needs to know. He needn't bother to read the rest.

If however he does have the time to read the entire letter, he'll see my apology, realise that I'm not a regular offender, and appreciate that I'm a Responsible Citizen with a good attitude. But none of that will help. It'll just confuse the simple issue. So my letter might then go into yet another tray, for a proper police officer to assess. Eventually. When he has a free moment. And he's bound to bounce it back with 'fine and three points' stamped on it. Especially if he has a headache, and wants to go home. 

My fear then is that the legal request for money and my licence will arrive weeks from now, while I'm on holiday. And I will miss some deadline - with dire consequences. There's also my car insurance company: they must be phoned as soon as I know the offence is confirmed, so that I remain covered. I can't leave that till I return from holiday. 

So I'll need to make special arrangements. I'll have to ask J--- next door, and T--- my cleaner, to look out for anything from the Kent Police, open it up, and text me at once. Then I can at least dash home to deal with it. Even if it disrupts my holiday in March. Or June.

Grrrr. Don't say it. It's all my fault, every part of it. I know, I know.


  1. I understand that feeling of holding up all the traffic! there should be a special signal light that can be shown to indicate that "yes I am going slower than EVERYONE else but that is because unlike you I have been caught speeding by the mobile tax collectors!"

    Why don't they just have a draw and send out random demands?

    Sadly my life experience as an above average law-abiding citizen has not given me a good impression of our police, a friend who was a policeman felt the same! Stuck to the rules and found promotion impossible, he was sent on so many courses to keep him out of the way he ended up the lowest ranking policeman speaking directly to chief constables...

    I am sure that if you were one of the great unwashed you would not have been bothered by this event at all and if you were a government minister you would have just got the points taken off you partner's licence...

  2. Stop worrying about it Lucy. If their letter/notice or whatever comes whilst you are away then so be it. You don't need to have your licence with you whist out driving for all your data is now electronically stored in a data-base. I would let my insurers know immediately, don't wait for the police/court to respond. As long as your insurers know the situation your cover will remain intact, it's only your premium that might be affected but that adjustment will be made when you renew your policy.
    Shirley Anne x

    1. Oh and yes you won't be penalised if you cannot make any payment due because you are on holiday. What would they do if you were out of the country for a few weeks? You can't place your life on hold for the sake of paying a fine

      Shirley Anne x


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