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6/21/2006
UK Government Rules that Police Used Misleading Speed Camera Stats
The UK Advertising Standards Agency charged Greater Manchester police with dishonest advertising in material promoting the use of speed cameras.

Book of Tricks
Police in Greater Manchester, UK were judged to have used misleading statistics and false advertising in a ruling issued today by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), an independent agency that enforces UK laws against false advertising. The speed camera operators in February began mailing a pamphlet entitled the "Book of Tricks" to recipients of £60 (US $110) photo tickets.

According to the Hampshire resident who filed the original complaint, the pamphlet was designed to intimidate motorists into paying fines without exercising their legal right to a defense in court. "I felt that the booklet broke the law," he told TheNewspaper in an interview. The pamphlet, "would increase the risk of a family naming someone even if they did not know who was driving or if it was a misread number plate or cloned number plate."

The ASA agreed, condemning two specific violations. First, ASA found that by branding legitimate websites opposed to the use of speed camera ticketing as "trick dealers," the agency ruled that, "the leaflet breached CAP Code clause 20.1 (Denigration and unfair advantage)." The independent agency also found that the police assertion that each high-speed collision cost taxpayers £100,000 (US $180,000) was untruthful, violating CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign applauded the ruling. "It is quite extraordinary -- and totally unacceptable -- to see the British Police playing fast and loose with information," Smith said. "The leaflet was intended to deceive, and as such is all too typical of the information surrounding speed cameras."

Following the successful ruling, the Hampshire resident said this was just the beginning. "I am continuing the campaign against dubious propaganda by requesting all advertising material under the freedom of information act. All requests will land on police desks today."



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