Variations in speed gun rules unfair, motoring body says

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 February, 2008, 12:00am

Districts had own versions of laser guidelines, officer claims

Inconsistencies in police rules for the use of laser speed guns were unfair to drivers, a motoring industry representative said yesterday.

A senior traffic police officer said earlier yesterday that new Chinese-language guidelines for using the speed guns had been issued citywide to officers operating them. And police and Department of Justice officials insisted the laser guns measured vehicle speed accurately.

After they spoke, a senior frontline police officer, who refused to be named, revealed that translations of guidance notes from English into Chinese, and the distance at which officers were required to test speed guns' accuracy, varied from district to district.

The officer also said operators often used the laser guns in the rain if it was not too heavy, apparently contradicting a statement yesterday by deputy director of prosecutions John Reading that officers are instructed not to use the guns in the rain.

'It's a complete mess,' said Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah.

Questions about how the police use speed guns have followed tycoon Peter Lam Kin-ngok's successful challenge of speed gun readings purporting to show he had been driving at 114km/h in a 50km/h zone on Lantau. Mr Lam pleaded guilty at a court hearing on January 6 to an amended charge that he drove at 79km/h, thereby avoiding being suspended from driving.

Police have since received 334 applications by drivers for reviews of their convictions for speeding.

Lawmakers said the force should make the new guidelines for operating speed guns public. Mr Tong said that would allow them to be checked against those issued by the maker.

A police spokesman said they were for internal use only. But Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing said: 'They have to let [the Legislative Council] see the new guidelines, even if not the public.'

Senior Superintendent Anthony Lam Yiu-wing said the manufacturer and an independent expert would vet the new police guidelines next month.

Ringo Lee Yiu-pui, vice-chairman of the Institute of the Motor Industry Hong Kong , said motorists had never doubted the laser guns' accuracy, only whether they were being used correctly.

The lack of a universal standard for use of the guns was 'very unfair to motorists,', he said.

Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung assured legislators two weeks ago, that 'the manufacturer's manual has all along been observed in full by laser gun operators in all police regions, and is now the only operating guideline for laser gun operators'.

The same day, Constable Lo Chun-ting told a magistrate's court hearing a speeding case that he had never seen the manufacturer's manual and was trained using only the police manual.

Yesterday, Democrat Lee Wing-tat accused Mr Wong of misleading lawmakers by giving the impression that operators of the speed guns had been following a universal and original users' manual.