An interesting day in the field of Road Traffic Law in
as the VASCAR device becomes the latest speed measurement tool deployed by
Scottish forces to come under scrutiny.
Does VASCAR stand for “Very Accurate Say Cops, Aye Right”?
Traffic police in
have been ordered to stop using handheld speed detecting equipment amid fears
it could be affected by police radio waves.
Road policing units were told to employ alternatives to the
Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder (Vascar) system until further
It is thought police radios could be causing faults in the
The system sees an officer pressing a button as a vehicle
passes between two measured points.
It has been in use for 25 years.
Strathclyde Police confirmed its officers had been asked to
use alternative speed detectors while the concerns over the impact of the
police radio system Airwave on the device were investigated.
Michael Lyon has successfully defended a vast number of
VASCAR cases over the years. The defences tend to relate to clear breaches of
ACPO guidelines or deficiencies in the Crown case. In this present climate our
advice is clearly to seek specialist legal representation if facing an
allegation for speeding in
by virtue of either the VASCAR, Provida or Police Pilot.
In terms of historical convictions, we would suggest that a
definitive and authoritative ruling will require to be made on the legitimacy
of the VASCAR device prior to appeal proceedings or an application to the
Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission with a view to overturning the
conviction. Those seeking to pursue an appeal should therefore keep their
We would also have to observe that the issue of radio
interference has long been known to the Police Forces in .
With the switch from analogue to digital radios, the possibility of radio
interference is recognised by their very own guidelines and they suggest that
such devices should be turned off or switched to inhibit mode.
We consider there may be more to this than meets the eye and
the investigation may be about other devices that emit a signal that could
corrupt the accuracy of the reading produced by a VASCAR device. We are due to
be conducting our own Defence investigation into these difficulties.
Ch Insp Andy Orr, of the force's road policing department,
said: "There is a suggestion that the Vascar system might be affected by
Airwave radio waves and the matter is currently being investigated by
"Until such time that the matter has been fully
investigated, a memo has been sent to officers asking them to use alternative
speed detection equipment."
The force stressed Vascar was not the main speed detector in
use - the focus was on other systems such as speed cameras and radar guns.
The Association of Chief Police Officers in
(Acpos) said all eight of the country's forces had been asked not to use Vascar
and two other speed detection systems.
An Acpos spokesman said: "Road policing units with all
have been advised of a potential issue with three speed detection systems -
Vascar, Police Pilot and Provida.
"They have been advised not to use them for speed
detection until the issue is resolved but to continue employing other speed
"Despite this concern, all Scottish forces will be
maintaining robust speed detection activities above and beyond those carried
out by the Scottish Safety Camera Partnership.