Letter: Legal trap for the speedy

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Legal trap for the speedy

Sir: Miles Kington ("Trying to pull a fast one are we, sir?", 10 July) asks on what charge the police could get him if he stood by the road with a large sign warning speeding motorists of a police speed trap ahead. The answer is, obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty, contrary to section 89(2) of the Police Act 1996, an offence punishable with one month's imprisonment and/or a fine of up to pounds 1,000. The High Court so held in 1909 when upholding the conviction of an AA patrolman who warned motorists exceeding the then speed limit of 20 mph: Betts v Stevens [1910] 1 KB 1.

If Mr Kington were to protest that his warning was given only with the laudable objective of preventing the commission of a crime - the argument which prevailed in the earlier case of Bastable v Little [1907] 1 KB 59 - he should be told that the Divisional Court in Green v Moore [1982] 2 WLR 671 were not impressed with this distinction. Donaldson LJ commenting: "We cannot see any distinction between a warning given in order that the commission of a crime may be suspended whilst there is a danger of detection, which is an offence, and one which is given in order that the commission of a crime may be postponed until after the danger of detection has passed."


Groton, Suffolk