S.172 – Signing The Form


Recently I received a Nip as my car had caught in x photographed by a static Gatso camera doing 36 in a 30 limit. My partner had borrowed the car to drive to her work in x. I read the NIP carefully and looked at your site and read all the cases listed. My issues;

1. I was reluctant to sign the NIP as I was not traveling with her at the time.

2. She is part of a car share scheme.

3. I did not want to assist the Police prosecute her

4. I did not want to provide a witness statement against her, especially as I was not a passenger in the car.

5. I was very unhappy that the evidence from the cameras was so arbitrary. How you judge the actual position of the car in the boxes from 48 feet behind the car beats me especially as the actual speed was marginal to ‘threshold speed’. The registration could not be read on any of the photos required an enhancement. Also the GOSAFE could not give the calibration as cameras units are rotated for calibration. They stated that they cannot say which camera took the picture.

6. All the high profile cases centred on the unsigned form/verbal communications and mainly with drivers using the loophole of not signing the form( inadmissible as evidence in court)

I returned the NIP completing the driver details etc dated but unsigned within 28 days, with a signed covering letter stating why I could not sign the letter as I was not a passenger in the car. My letter included my partners details requesting that they write to her.

7. It is clear than the position of the Unsigned Form was summarised in the Idris Francis v DPP March 2004 which stated in summary

  • They stated that Yorke/Maudsley won their appeals and the judgement was a correct ruling as both drivers should have been cautioned that they faced prosecution if they did not sign the NIP. They would have been successfully prosecuted for not signing the NIP under S172(4) of the RTOC 1988. They ruled that the Chief Constable was acting reasonably in expecting the driver/registered owner to sign the form. As drivers, they could have written to the Court and their signed letter would have been admissible.
  • They upheld the successful appeal in Bloomfield as they agreed that Oral evidence was inadmissible but drivers did not have to use the NIP in their reply. A letter was admissible.
  • They accepted in Pickford that an unsigned NIP could be accepted as a voluntary confession where the driver and registered owner were one and the same.
  • They ruled in DPP v Jones that the successful appeal was incorrect, which I had hoped to use as my defence. They ruled that the S172 (4) allows the driver to write to the Police but NOT the registered keeper. The Act requires the registered keeper to sign the NIP and cannot send a signed letter to the Police. The only part of their judgement which might afford me a defence is that the Police/GoStop failed to ask me to sign the NIP in 5 subsequent letters. They failed to caution me that a failure to sign the NIP would make me liable to prosecution under S 172(4). They repeated that I had failed to provide the drivers details, not asking me to sign the NIP. In Idris Francis, I believe that the clear warning from the Police that the form must be signed by the registered keeper was fundamental to the judgement.

8. I believe that the Idris Francis judgement closed the perceived loopholes for the driver and registered keeper. I am not aware of any more recent judgements.

9. As a final thought, why do the Police require a signed NIP when the registered owner has not committed an offence under RTOC1988 and has supplied the details of the driver? I do not understand why the Police do not send the NIP to the driver and stop the registered keeper having to incriminate the driver. I suspect that they need the keeper to finger the driver for a successful prosecution!!!!

I await my summons but I think the Idris Francis in the High Court should be posted on your site as a definitive Case Law. In the light of current withdrawals by Swindon on the basis that that static cameras have not added to road safety, the final judgement in IF in the European Courts is more questionable. Their judgement was based on the principle of the greater good  (the loss of human rights was more than balanced by the Governments desire to reduce road deaths) Today they might have won their appeal.

Dominic Says:

To sum up here’s my view based on the various cases over the years;

– The police are entitled to stipulate the manor in which the information is given. If you fail to sign the form then you can be accused of failing to supply the information required in the manner required.

– If you are the registered keeper and you are naming someone else as the driver then you are still required to sign the form and if you don’t you can be prosecuted.

– They won’t use your response as evidence against the other person. Your response simply allows them to then send a s.172 request to the other person. If they then deny being the driver the police can either summons them for failing to name the driver or revert back to you on the same basis.

– If you name yourself as the driver and the court is confident that you were the person that completed the form (irrespective of the lack of a signature) then this can still be treated as a confession in relation to establishing the identity of the driver – catch 22…

My view is just sign the form, otherwise you risk 6 points and a hefty fine. I take your point that if it won’t amount to evidence against her then why does it need to be signed – but it’s clear that they are allowed to stipulate the manner in which the information is given.

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