A few weeks ago, you may
remember that we ran an article about North Yorkshire Police
and their new get tough approach to speeding. The Chief Constable,
a Mr Collins, made some rather forthright comments about speeding
and the general attitude of speeders to the law and to society.
In fact, he went rather further than that, suggesting that
people who speed are 'lifestyle criminals' and that they warranted
attention from his lads regardless.
He then attempted to parry criticisms by
clarifying that he wasn't out to demonise motorcyclist but
rather was simply calling it as it is, and highlighting the
problems faced in his region.
the article, should you need reminding.
Now this week he has released some
statistics which would appear to back up his claims. It seems
that around one in four bikers stopped for what he calles
'Extreme Speeding' have a criminal record.
That's pretty serious stuff. Maybe all the
things our mums told us about bikers are true after all.
But we got thinking and decided it was time
to have a closer look. There are, after all, three types of
lies - lies, damned lies and statistics.
First stop was
the Home Office. If they don't know about criminal
records, who does, right? This may surprise you. It certainly
33% of men aged 46 or over have a
criminal record. As do 9% of women.
Changes in policy regarding cautions instead
of prosecutions mean that 22% of males aged between
10 and 45 have criminal records, with 5% of women being in
the same boat.
What does this tell us? That women are far,
far better at not getting nicked than men are. And that there
are an awful lot of us with criminal records.
Now let's have a look at the cross section
of bikers, shall we?
According to the DFT, about 20% of active
bikers are aged 46 or over. And 15% are women, according to
the DSA. There are very few female bikers aged over 46 so
we'll discount them for this calculation. Sorry ladies.
Time to do some maths.
numbers mean that, overall, something over 22% of
motorcyclists have criminal records. Whether they
speed or not. And whether they get stopped in North Yorkshire
22% is just under one in four. So statistically the proportion of bikers stopped for extreme
speeding who turn out to have criminal records is virtually
the same as the proportion of bikers not stopped
for speeding or anything else who have criminal records. And,
for that matter, much the same as the proportion of almost
any other cross section of society.
Now you may notice that Mr Collins has not
chosen to target any other group and to publicise this figure.
Statistically, bearing in mind the age and gender profile
associate with the game, nearer a third of golfers will have
a criminal record. Similarly bridge and whist players will
have equally shady backgrounds. But Mr Collins chooses to
ignore this. In fact, Mr Collins, statistically one in three
of your classmates at school will, by now, have acquired a
have to ask yourself, as I am, exactly what
Mr Collins hopes to achieve by releasing information like
this? He says he isn't out to demonise bikers. We
can't see it.
We've invited a response from North Yorkshire
Police and will publish it, in full and unedited, when it
arrives with us.
Here's the full text of the press release
so that you can see we aren't taking it out of context. Tne
paragraph we're bothered about is the throwaway bit at the
bottom. We've put it in bold so it stands
SPEEDERS TOLD “SMILE - YOU’RE
North Yorkshire Police have unveiled a new weapon in the
fight to cut motorcycle casualties - Autovision.
Riders and drivers coming into the county this weekend for
the Gold Cup motorcycle races in Scarborough will be greeted
by the new device which enables officers operating speed checks
at any potential danger spot to record the speed, number plate
and rider or driver’s face - releasing more officers
for safety work, and forestalling disputes over the identity
Autovision is also ideal for recording the details of extreme
speeders - those travelling more than 30mph above the speed
limit. It can be hard to record such riders’ registration
numbers as they rocket by, and it can also be hard to catch
With help from North Yorkshire County Council - strong partners
in the force’s get-tough enforcement policy - each policing
area of North Yorkshire has bought an Autovision device. It
is a highly mobile camera system which connects to police
laser speed detectors. The camera sees and records what the
operating officer sees, and records the information into a
The information is later downloaded and will lead to either
fixed penalty tickets, or a swift court appearance for extreme
Assistant Chief Constable David Collins said: “Autovision
gives us three bonuses:
- “There is no need to have a second officer down the
road from a speed check, waiting to stop offenders. That officer
is now free to get on with other accident reduction work
- “There is a safety issue in that there is no need
for high speed pursuits, cutting the risk to both officers
and the offender
- “Thirdly, Autovision will mean an end to speeders
falsely claiming they weren’t the rider or driver, or
that we’d got the wrong vehicle.”
As well as the new speed check system North Yorkshire Police
will again mount extra patrols and speed checks for the weekend,
with the emphasis on enforcement of speed limits. The force’s
successful fast-track policy is still in force, so extreme
speeders can expect to go before a court with days of being
caught, and face the likelihood of losing their licences.
Mr Collins said: “We still follow our policy of advice
and education for road users, but this year has shown that
a firm line on enforcement does bring results.”
And Mr Collins made a personal appeal to all road users as
the leisure motorcycling season nears its end. He said: “People
across the county and beyond have responded very positively
to our enforcement campaign this year, and the figures so
far show we are on the right track - 12 riders have died this
year compared with 26 at the same time last year - and we
are desperate for this downward trend to be maintained.”
He said: “12 is still 12 too many, and each represents
a tragedy whose impact spreads out far beyond the family and
friends of the deceased, but none the less we can take some
encouragement from the results of the get-tough campaign.
Particularly pleasing is the understanding and support we
have had from many riders and members of the motorcycle media.
“But what I really want is to be able to draw a line
under this year’s motorcycle casualties in North Yorkshire.
I am asking all road users to make that extra effort to ride
and drive safely, sensibly and with consideration for others
- that’s all it takes to slash the dreadful toll of
death and injury.”
Mr Collins added that one result of analysis of the
get-tough campaign was particularly interesting. “One
in four of those riders caught extreme speeding in North Yorkshire
this year turns out to have a criminal record. There appears
to be a connection between responsible riding and living a
responsible life - simply, there are some people who just
don’t care about others. They are people who will be
receiving special attention from my Road Policing officers.”