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Police expert plans to challenge evidence in court
BY SIEVE FARRELL
A POLICE video expert's testimony is set to help thousands of motorcyclists avoid speeding fines after he claimed that mobile speed cameras are "totally inaccurate".
Lee Tracey, an expert consultant on video evidence for West Midlands Police, says lasers used in speed camera vans are likely to be less accurate on bikes than cars - and that the laser systems themselves don't even work properly on cars.
Tracey, who was snapped by a police camera van, told MCN that he plans to prove his findings by obtaining the film of him allegedly speeding and using his expertise to show how fast he really was going.
"The film will show the time," said 79-year-old Tracey, who is also a town councillor in his home of Oswestry. By noting the time elapsed between his passing between two reference points in the road Tracey says he can prove his real speed. "All I have to do is measure the distance between two points on the actual stretch of road," he said.
MCN first reported concerns over the accuracy of the LTI 20.20 lasers in July, after the Home Office admitted they'd never been tested for accuracy on bikes. In speed camera vans the devices are attached to video cameras. This link between the laser and the video camera may allow Tracey to bring his expertise for defence into court.
Tracey provides the police with expert forensic advice on CCTV and digital TV images and says speed camera evidence falls within his "engineering area of expertise."
He claims to have obtained an LTI 20.20 and tested it for himself.
"They are positively not accurate," he said. "I pointed one at a wall and it told me the wall was doing 40mph. The problem is that the technology was never designed to measure speed. It was designed for surveyors to measure distance."
Tracey says he was "just meandering" through a 30mph zone in Wrexham in October when a speed camera van snapped him doing an alleged 39mph. He responded to the Fixed Penalty Notice that landed on his doorstep with a letter asking to see the film, and received a reply from the North Wales Speed Camera Partnership informing him that they were "not obliged to supply it at this stage."
Tracey is now awaiting a summons, and the North Wales partnership won't be able to withhold the film in court.
Andrew Dalton a partner at bike friendly solicitors White Dalton, in Dunstable, said: "They don't have to provide it prior to the hearing but magistrates don't like it when the prosecutors don't reveal their hand if it's deemed reasonable for them to do so."
Tracey added: "I've heard of three cases of other experts asking to see film to work out their speed for themselves. In each case the partnerships said they would not. Then, when magistrates ordered them to provide the film, the cases were dropped. I intend to fight this all the way."
Copyright Motor Cycle News - November 2005
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