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Another week, another police officer is acquitted of speeding. The latest is PC Daniel Swain, who was accused of dangerous driving after he hit another car before hurtling into the front of someone's house while answering an emergency call.

Another week, another police officer is acquitted of speeding. The latest is PC Daniel Swain, who was accused of dangerous driving after he hit another car before hurtling into the front of someone's house while answering an emergency call.

It must have been remarkable to behold. The homeowner concerned, an Elaine Smithurst, commented: "I said to my husband, 'Oh my god there's a police car coming through the window'." At least it was a rapid, if unwarranted, response. Mr Swain was accused of travelling at 90mph in a 30mph limit before coming to rest in front of Ms Smithurst's three-piece suite. The judge ruled that there was no case to answer because a device that stored the car's speed had been lost.

The Swain case swiftly follows that of PC Mark Milton, the policeman cleared of speeding despite a 159mph run down the M54 in Shropshire. Mr Milton became infamous because his reason for driving quite so quickly was that he wanted to test out the abilities of his new police vehicle. I hope it lived up to its promise.

As it happens, I too have had a nasty experience with a police car. About 12 years ago I was in Norwood, south London, when an unmarked Rover 800 with a blue light came hurtling round a bend barely in control. There was nothing between me and a ton of crazy Rover but the driver's door of my Mini.

Somehow the driver managed to get the Rover back on line and I was left, shaken but composed, to continue my life. I watched as the Rover skewed its way down the hill leaving huge skid marks all over the place. It was about 9am. That very evening I went to the police station and was told that no, there was no such thing as an unmarked police car and I must have made a mistake and, no, he wouldn't allow me to register a complaint.

Well, I've seen sufficient unmarked police cars since then to know that the desk sergeant told me an outright lie. There was nothing I could do, because I hadn't taken the car's details. But it has not been forgiven.

There is something very, very wrong with the way some police drivers behave. Just because they are allowed to pursue villains and are often trained to an extremely high standard doesn't mean they above the law of the land or the laws of physics.

Everyone would agree that the police should be given the green light, so to speak, to catch criminals, and there are obviously risks involved. We should sympathise with that. However, they do have crashes - too many - and those outside their course of duty are unforgiveable.

I do not see why the police seem to be so rarely convicted when they speed or drive dangerously, and I certainly don't understand why it is impossible for them to practice their driving skills at 159mph on a private track. I just wonder what might have happened if someone had pulled out in front of any of these officers. There are still people on the road at 3am, despite what some coppers think.

If the police behave as if they are above the law and sub-contract most of the their road-safety duties to the speed cameras, I think they forfeit a good deal of the goodwill most of us want to give them.

A few modest transgressions of the speed limit and you will find yourself losing your licence. Drivers shouldn't break the limit, but it seems wrong that if you happen to be caught at 38mph in a 30mph zone a few times you will find yourself banned, but if you happen to be a member of Her Majesty's constabulary it seems that virtually anything goes. And a speed camera will not detect a drunk who keeps within the speed limit - a real police team in a real police car will, but when was the last time you saw one on a motorway? There is a real sense of injustice about the way the system affects "ordinary" motorists. Mind how you go, officer.

s.ogrady@independent.co.uk

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