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Ambulance staff waste hundreds of hours per year contesting speeding fines

A BBC investigation reveals that thousands of speeding tickets are issued to paramedics responding to 999 calls

Ingrid Torjesen

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Staff at ambulance trusts are wasting hundreds of hours having to appeal against speeding fines issued to emergency vehicles, a BBC investigation has revealed.

A Freedom of Information investigation by the BBC to all ambulance trusts in England showed that paramedics received 23,227 speeding tickets between 2009 and 2014 after being caught on speed cameras. If not appealed against, some trusts would be facing a bill of up to £160,000 a year. Yorkshire Ambulance Service Trust had to appeal against fines that would amount to more than £774,000 over five years.

Only 400 of the more than 23,000 tickets were upheld prompting trust managers to call for the automatic exemption on emergency vehicles to be better enforced.

Carl Rees, from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, told the BBC that "common sense should be applied" and "notices should only be sent out if no blue lights can be seen flashing".

Some trust staff, such as those at South Central Ambulance Service Trust, covering Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire are spending 40 hours a month appealing against the fines, the investigation found.

The police said that tickets are issued because some speed cameras that measure average speed only capture the speed and number plate of the vehicle.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Barry, from the National Police Chiefs' Council, told the BBC that while police would generally stop notices from being sent out, this was more difficult since the introduction of average speed checks.

"When an emergency vehicle clearly displaying blue lights triggers a camera, but the police can see that it was being driven safely in accordance with the law with blue lights displayed, they would generally stop notices from being sent out.

"This has been made more difficult with the introduction of average speed checks in recent years, which usually capture the speed and number plate of the vehicle but not necessarily an image."

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