Speeding drivers to be given road safety lessons

Sophie Goodchild,Jo Dillon,Andy McSmith
Sunday 10 November 2002 01:00

Speeding motorists will escape a ban and instead be sent back to school under a new government amnesty for drivers to be announced in this week's Queen's Speech.

Drivers who have been caught on speed cameras and are in danger of losing their licences will be offered the chance to pay for retraining at special driving centres.

This new scheme will apply to motorists who can show they have a relatively unblemished driving history. They will be given lessons in road safety and good driving practices in return for avoiding penalty points and a possible driving ban.

Ministers from the Home Office and Department of Transport are understood to be concerned about a growing backlash from middle-class voters who feel they are being unfairly targeted by speed cameras. Home Office figures released last month showed that more than one million drivers were prosecuted in England and Wales in 2000, raising more than £44m in fines.

This figure is expected to rise to three million prosecutions by the end of 2003 which means that as many as one in 10 drivers will get a speeding ticket every year.

Yobs, disruptive neighbours, irresponsible landlords and unruly schoolchildren will be the main targets of the Queen's Speech in a concerted attack on all forms of anti-social behaviour.

Wednesday's statement outlining the Government's plans for the coming year will centre on two major pieces of Home Office legislation: one covering trials and sentences, the other dealing with sex offenders. It is expected to be the embodiment of Labour's promise to be tough on crime and its causes.

Backing up David Blunkett's anti-crime strategy are Bills from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's department giving local authorities new powers to deal with disruptive council tenants and to take action against private landlords who profit from the housing benefits of anti-social tenants and Education Secretary Charles Clarke's Bill to tackle truancy and discipline in schools.

As part of the central criminal justice reform package, the Government is expected to include measures to end double jeopardy – the rule that prevents people being tried twice for the same crime.

Wednesday's speech will for the first time include a reference to a future referendum on the euro. The Government will signal its readiness to put the issue of the single currency to a public vote once Chancellor Gordon Brown's five economic tests have been met.

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