Monday, July 03, 2006

Ticketing for revenue or safety?

Several rightwing bloggers (DPF and New Zeal) have reported the NZ Herald story about Police having to meet productivity targets – which could include ticketing for the sake of it. This is a typical talkback radio issue and one that annoys many because it appears the cops are being bloody minded.
This sort of thing pisses off Ministers no end. Transport Minister Annette King isn’t amused, and I know that previous Transport Ministers, Labour and National have also been furious with reports like this. Ministers have denied it, and it has certainly not been policy of any Labour transport Ministers under this government, or recent National ones. In other words, this is NOT a political driver for money (it is pittance regardless and the Police don’t get the money as a kickback). The Police are funded for safety enforcement from the National Land Transport Programme by Land Transport NZ – it comes from your road taxes, and the targets the Police are meant to achieve are about reducing crashes in areas and on roads that have poor safety records. This isn’t about revenue collection (and the National Land Transport Fund does not receive fine revenue). Unfortunately, there is no competition for this. Nobody else has the powers to undertake the Police traffic enforcement work, although in the UK the trend has been for the Highways Agency to have its own unit to cope with non-enforcement activity that the Police often do, like directing traffic. I am sure more of this could happen in NZ too.
NZ First is calling for a dedicated traffic enforcement unit, which has some merits, although we’ve been down that path before where someone would drive like a maniac past some cops and nothing would be done about it.
No reason why the Police couldn’t also have a contract purely to catch dangerous drivers when they are observed, with a separate Transit contracted highway safety police for day to day activities. The answer to the Police is not a simple one, but it should be the responsibility of the road owner to contract.

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