Patterson Law Fighting to Overturn Conviction for Failing to Name Driver

Requests for driver information under s.172 RTA 88 enable the police to compel people to provide identification evidence which the police don’t have, either by giving incriminating evidence against themselves or by pointing the finger at someone else who is then sent a request in their own right.

A request for driver information can only be issued by or on behalf of the Chief Constable of the force in question.

The Civilian manager of the South Yorkshire safety camera partnership continued to issue requests for driver information in the name of suspended Chief Constable Crompton (suspended at the time as a result of his response to the Hillsborough disaster) for 8 months. Yes you heard it right ‘8 months’ before a fresh authority was signed by the acting Chief Constable.

Our client questioned the validity of the request – when an officer is suspended they lose their status and all authority as a police officer throughout the suspension – on receipt of such a notice.

Our client received what can only be described as a robust rebuff arguing the civilian manager had implied authority based on case law that related to an acting chief Constable giving authority to a acting police inspector, who then delegated that authority to an acting police Constable.

We are about to start appeal proceedings as a district judge ruled against us yesterday in the magistrates court, but on an argument that had not been raised explicitly in the skeleton arguments and defied the correct placement of the burden of proof which is on the crown to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an authorisation from a Chief Constable continues to have effect despite his suspension and despite the fact this removes his status as a police officer and also despite the fact there are statutory provisions in place to allow a deputy Chief Constable to take control of such issues immediately upon suspension.

If the argument ultimately succeeds it brings into question every conviction for failing to provide driver information based on requests issued by South Yorkshire police during that period (there will be hundreds if not thousands) and potentially the admissibility of the identification evidence provided in response to each and every request made during that period….. well the numbers on that front beggar belief. (The suspension was later found to be unlawful but it doesn’t change the fact he was suspended as a matter of fact at the relevant time)….

Have you been affected by this? Have you recently received a section 172 request from South Yorkshire safety camera partnership?