VASCAR Speed Detection Device Under Scrutiny by Michael Lyon Solicitors

By: Michael Lyon Solicitors Ltd.  04/02/2009
Keywords: legal services, solicitors, lawyers

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 notice.

It is thought police radios could be causing faults in the speed detectors.

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 powder dry.

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 Strathclyde Police.”

"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 forces in 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 detection systems.

"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.

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