5:21pm Friday 24th January 2014
By Peter Barron
OUR exclusive story about how a North-East police officer drove at speeds of up to 140 mph to demonstrate the power of his car to a prisoner has caused quite a stir today.
The dominant - and understandable - question being asked by campaigners, readers and even serving police officers has been: "Why has the officer not been charged?"
This is a news story which is receiving significant national attention and it isn't going to go away quickly.
A statement has now been issued by Durham Police, defending the decision to limit its action to internal disciplinary measures rather than to charge the as yet unidentified Darlington officer with a criminal offence.
The key justifications for that decision are that the officer in question is "an advanced and highly-skilled police driver" and at no point was he driving dangerously.
I'm sorry but that does not excuse anyone from breaking the law. The police employ skilled drivers to drive at high speeds in appropriate circumstances - when a crime is being committed or public safety is at risk. They are not employed to drive at high speeds to show-off, commit a crime, and jeopardise public safety.
The police have to be whiter than white. Fighting crime relies on a trusted relationship between the police and the public and that cannot work on a "one rule for them and another for us" basis.
I accept the assurances that the officer has an exemplary record and that this was a one-off misjudgement, rather than a pattern of behaviour.
But anyone else who had driven on a public road at such excessive speeds would have been brought before the courts. And so should he.
Nigel Mansell was once banned for six months for driving in this country at 92mph. He was fairly advanced too.
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