2:30pm Tuesday 8th October 2013
By Paul Broome
A LAW firm says it has unearthed a “serious flaw” in the way Worcester’s police force tells drivers of some motoring offences.
Patterson Law believes the error could result in a raft of charges brought by West Mercia Police being revisited.
The problem centres on the force’s “request to name driver” forms which, the firm says, doesn’t give the driver the option to take the matter to court and contest the charge.
Patterson Law says the forms are, as a result, “defective and confusing”.
It says the absence of such an option goes against Human Rights legislation stating anyone accused of an offence has the right to a trial if they deny guilt.
“Patterson Law has written to West Mercia Police and awaits their response with interest,” said Emma Patterson, of the firm. “We were quite frankly shocked that such a confusing form could be issued in the first place.
“We then started thinking about the bigger picture and how many people that might have accepted a ticket not realising they had a right to a trial.”
She said the error was highlighted to the Crown Prosecution Service, which subsequently dropped a recent case in Staffordshire.
The first section of the ‘defective’ form, according to Patterson Law, gave drivers three options for not accepting a fixed penalty notice.
One was a tick box for those with eight or more points on their licence, another was a tick box for those who could not pay the £60 fine in full, and the third for those wishing to present mitigating circumstances to the court.
Patterson Law says none of these gives the driver the chance to deny the alleged offence and has since written to West Mercia Police central ticket office asking it to review all fixed penalties issued based on people’s responses to the form.
A West Mercia Police spokesman said: “The West Mercia Police central ticket office is aware of the issues raised by Patterson Law and has contacted them to inform them that we are currently looking into it alongside our legal department and the Crown Prosecution Service.”
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