Police to review speed gun use

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, 12:00am

Force to look at guidelines for traffic officers and procedures for operating lasers

Police are setting up a taskforce to review how the force has been operating laser speed guns, following controversy over the reduction of a speeding charge last week.

Lai Sun Development chairman Peter Lam Kin-ngok succeeded in having a speeding charge reduced below the level that would have cost him his licence.

The tycoon was initially accused of driving his Ferrari at up to 114km/h in a 50km/h zone on the North Lantau Highway on April 5.

But the prosecution asked to amend the charge and accepted Mr Lam's guilty plea of driving at 79km/h after questions were raised about whether a police constable had breached police guidelines when using a laser gun to assess the car's speed. A magistrate approved the application and fined Mr Lam HK$450.

A police spokesman said yesterday a taskforce had been set up to review internal guidelines and procedures concerning the operation of laser guns to address concerns raised. But the spokesman said police would keep using them for their 'undoubted accuracy and reliability'.

A British expert who gave evidence for Mr Lam has said police officers needed proper training in using speed guns and better testing of the lasers was needed. Officers received flawed and sometimes contradictory instructions and training, said the expert, Michael Clark.

He said of Mr Lam's case: 'The target was wrong, the distance was wrong, everything [the officer] did pretty much was wrong.'

The Department of Justice said last night the charge was amended because evidence was weaker than expected and the prosecution could not substantiate the original charge. The case had nothing to do with the accuracy of laser speed guns, but how they were operated in the case, it said.

Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group chairman Lai Ming-hung said police were dragging their feet. If there was a problem with the accuracy of the laser guns, police should immediately cancel all summonses issued based on their readings.

Mr Lai has been collecting summonses from fellow taxi and public minibus drivers in readiness for negotiations with the police.

James To Kun-sun, deputy chairman of the Legislative Council's security panel, expects to see a wave of protests from motorists against police speeding charges.

Mr To said: 'This is unavoidable, as the police have not come forward to explain what happened when they amended the charge against Lam.'

He said he could not understand why police did not consider buying newer, affordable speed-detecting equipment, such as video recorders, to reinforce the laser speed guns. He said police were now taking a necessary step by studying the issue.

The chairman of the Urban Taxi Drivers Association Joint Committee, Kwok Chi-piu, said it was essential for the force to investigate the issue.