23 Oct 2015

Police speeding up 79% in 10 years

12:05 pm on 23 October 2015

More police officers are being caught speeding, with some clocking more than 100 kilometres per hour in suburban streets.

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Police officers are allowed to go over speed limits in emergency situations. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Figures released under the Official Information Act show the number of police vehicles snapped by speed cameras has increased by almost 80 percent in the last decade, from 601 in 2005/06 to 1078 in 2014/15.

While some officers speed because they are in emergency situations, which is allowed under land transport rules, more than 7000 have been issued notices in the last decade.

Half of those - 3606 of them - were given waivers because they were attending emergencies but the others were either fined, taken to court or are awaiting an outcome.

Last year, of the 1078 notices issued, 392 of them were not waived.

Police Association vice president Luke Shadbolt said he put the figures down to an increase in the number of speed cameras, an increase in the hours police were on the roads and a rise in more urgent callouts.

"We talk about P1 events, which are urgent or priority jobs. Those numbers of calls for service are increasing, so correspondingly there is a lift in police officers trying to get there and respond as soon as possible," he said.

Mr Shadbolt said whenever a notice was issued for a police car, there had to be an investigation and the driver needed to give an explanation for why they were speeding.

Police 'not above the law'

Automobile Association spokesperson Mike Noon said police needed to lead by example.

"Police have the rare and the right privilege to be able to exceed the speed limit in special circumstances, however a number of those tickets will be for occasions when the police were not speeding to an emergency and then the rule of the law applies to police as it does to every other motorist," he said.

Michael Woodhouse, National MP.

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse agreed police officers were not above the law.

"They're not infallible and they make mistakes. We generally hold them to a very high standard and by in large they meet that, but where they fall behind that standard they should also go through that same process," he said.

The figures also show 179 police vehicles have been caught driving 50 km over the speed limit over the past decade, and that the majority of those were in 50 km speed zones.

Last year, 63 of the 83 people caught driving 50 km over the limit were speeding in 50 km zones.

Another road safety campaigner, Clive Matthew-Wilson, said that was unacceptable.

"In 50 km zones, unless it's an emergency it's not acceptable to have that level of speed, I mean that's something that everyone including the police themselves can agree on, but obviously they need to practice what they preach," he said.

Speed camera notices issued for police cars - by the numbers:

  • 2005/2006 - 601 notices issued
  • 2006/2007 - 624 notices issued
  • 2007/2008 - 607 notices issued
  • 2008/2009 - 573 notices issued
  • 2009/2010 - 695 notices issued
  • 2010/2011 - 935 notices issued
  • 2011/2012 - 895 notices issued
  • 2012/2013 - 549 notices issued
  • 2013/2014 - 786 notices issued
  • 2014/2015 - 1078 notices issued