The more I read about the decision to prosecute six people over the PM’s speeding motorcade, the more disturbed I get.
If one looks at the full Police press release, you note that “two passenger police officers in the motorcade are charged with being parties to the offence of dangerous driving”.
I don’t mean this to be nasty to the PM’s press secretary, because he is a good guy, but if as reported he asked if the police would be able to make the flight, how can they decide to prosecute some passengers but not others?
I also think the charging of the drivers is debatable. I certainly agree they made the wrong decision in going that fast to make the scheduled flight, but they were asked whether they would be able to make the flight on time, and this was for the Prime Minister. And the traffic regulations do allow speeding when transporting a member of the Executive Council on urgent public business. Sure it was for a rugby game, but is it the job of the Police to decide whether that is important or not for the PM? They presume that it is always important for the PM to get to appointments on time.
Further down the police press release, I see they recommend changes to the Police Manual of Best Practice for these situations. This suggests the officers concerned were following the guidelines (otherwise why change them) which makes prosecution more deplorable. In fact they admit “It was noted that the Police Driving Policy: Urgent Duty Driving (Policy 2004/02) is currently inconsistent with the legislative defences for members of Police exceeding the speed limit.”
It also appears that the Police have been charged for having the security car follow the PM’s car too closely. Now this is nuts. I have travelled in that pursuit car a number of times, and their job is to make sure no other vehicle can get between them and the main car. To do that they have to follow closely, and swap lanes at short notice. It is rather disconcerting but the drivers are trained to do that.
If the Police want to change their procedures to make therm safer, that is fine. But to charge officers for doing their job – which is to stop a potentially hostile car getting behind the PM’s car – is again just grossly unfair.
I also find it disturbing that once again in a police investigation the PM is not interviewed, when she was a key player. According to this Dom Post story she only gave a written statement.
What is also regrettable is the total lack of empathy from the PM for the people who have been charged, for getting her to the flight on time. Naturally she should not comment on the appropriateness of the charges, but wouldn’t it have been nice to at least have an expression of regret that these officers and drivers who were merely trying to get her to the airport on time, have ended up in court for it.