Former Pc tells drivers how to dodge law

Safety campaigners angry over booklet that encourages motorists to exploit legal loopholes
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The Independent Online
Police are examining a controversial booklet written by a former traffic officer which advises motorists on how to avoid punishment for driving offences.

The booklet claims to have been written by a retired policeman with 22 years' experience and offers readers "the information the police don't want you to have". By exploiting "legal loopholes", drivers can learn how to avoid prosecution for positive breath tests, defeat speed traps and overturn parking tickets, the book claims.

But police attacked the author's actions as "outrageous" and are examining the publication to see if it breaks the law. Inspector Chris Hume, of Northamptonshire police, said: "For a retired police officer to see it as fair game to write a book that destroys everything that he has been working for during his career is outrageous. We are about road safety and should not be doing anything to detract from the message that road safety is about saving lives."

The book tries to arouse a sense of injustice in motorists by claiming they are unnecessarily fined in order to generate money for the authorities.

"The motorist is an easy target," it claims. "He's much easier to catch than a burglar, will give less trouble when he is caught and is more likely to have money in his pocket to pay a substantial fine."

Readers are given sample letters to send off to the police and courts in order to "kill" the possibility of incurring penalties. Drivers are also encouraged to challenge the accuracy of speed detectors and told not to produce their driving licences at the roadside and how to talk their way out of fines. Advice is given on how to drive above the speed limit without the risk of being stopped.

Motorists are also taught to exploit the "poor" knowledge of the law that most special constables have and the "apparent disarray" of the Crown Prosecution Service.

The book has been widely advertised in motoring and men's magazines and has already sold some 14,000 copies since it first it went on sale last year. The publisher, John Harrison, said that a large number of police forces had placed orders.

"I guess the police are looking to see if we are committing some sort of offence," he said. "We have had no feedback and I can only assume that they feel there is nothing in the book they can get upset over and take action on." He likened the role of the book to that of a defence solicitor advising a client for a forthcoming court case.

"If you believe that a solicitor encourages people to break the law because he advises people on their rights and obligations then you can say the same thing about this book," he said. "I dare say that there are some police officers who wish that solicitors don't exist because they make their job more difficult."

Mr Harrison added: "In the same way we are telling people what their rights are and how they should deal with a particular legal situation and that is not going to make [the police's] job easier either."

He admitted that several road safety organisations had written to complain about the booklet.

Mr Harrison said the author had been an existing customer of his company, Streetwise Marketing in Rotherham, and had offered his information as the material for a possible future publication. The writer uses the pseudonym of Martin Thwaite because he is apparently concerned about possible reprisals.

Mr Harrison said: "He just felt there would be an interest in the information. He did it to make money out of it."