Thursday, April 29, 2010

Who's The Victim?

Ultimately, a Supreme Court Judge decides that the only person to face punishment for Dianne Brimble's death is Dianne Brimble herself and the real victim was the man who gave her an illegal drug:

Supreme Court Justice Roderick Howie... described the supply as a "social" or consensual one... (and) "must be on the absolute lowest range of such offences".

Justice Howie... said Ms Brimble's death had impacted greatly upon Mr Wilhelm, with evidence tendered revealing he had "an acute mental illness" as a result of depression and anxiety... "No punishment I can give will be anything like the punishment he has suffered over the years," Justice Howie said. He said he hoped Mr Wilhelm could now get on with his life.
If Mrs Brimble had been loaned an unlicensed air gun and accidentally killed or maimed herself with it, the gun's owner would be punished for the supply of an illegal weapon, despite an air gun being on the lowest range of such weapons.

What's so different about supplying illegal drugs? Are they not a loaded weapon?

And why has it been impossible to get some sort of justice in the Brimble case?

-- Nick

Monday, April 26, 2010

Why Not A Blanket 40kmh Limit Then?

Governments love to 'consult' before acting. That way they can say 'you were asked'. Not that they had any intention of listening.

The Queensland Government is currently holding a community consultation into 'the road safety benefits of fixed speed cameras'. The introduction page contains this gem:

A study of an existing fixed speed camera program has provided evidence of safety benefits. An evaluation of the fixed speed cameras placed in the Victorian Domain Tunnel found that both the number of drivers speeding and the average speed of vehicles in the tunnel fell.
Seeking further information, one goes to the Issues Paper - or rather searches it out since there is no direct link to the paper - and finds the introduction simply paraphrases the Issues Paper:

A study of an existing fixed speed camera program has provided evidence of safety benefits. Victoria placed fixed speed cameras in two tunnels. The first tunnel, the Domain Tunnel, opened to traffic in April 2000, with enforcement starting in mid-September. An evaluation of these cameras found that both the number of drivers speeding and the average speed of vehicles in the tunnel fell.
How is this 'evidence of safety benefits'? Were there reductions in crashes?

One can safely assume there is no evidence of crash reduction for, in there was, it would be trumpeted. The 'evidence of safety benefits' is simply a self-seeking assertion from a government that wishes to install money-making machines.

Meanwhile, in speed-camera crazy Britain, the UK Daily Mail reports:

Britain's booming speed camera network is at the centre of a giant 'scam' aimed at making 'buckets of money' for the Government, the boss of a leading supplier of the devices has admitted. The sensational confession was made by the chief executive of Tele-Traffic, which supplies cameras to virtually every police force in Britain. His unguarded comments (were) made to an undercover reporter posing as a prospective buyer of speed cameras...
...while councils are no longer happy to pay for speed camera upkeep now they're denied a place at the trough:

Towns all over the country are joining the rush to get rid of fixed speed cameras... Tory-run Swindon Borough Council became the first to ditch the yellow boxes after councillor Peter Greenhalgh objected to central Government receiving all the cash from fines while Swindon council pays £320,000 a year for the cameras' upkeep.
...and they're suddenly willing to admit the evidence for them doesn't stack up:

Mr Greenhalgh said the fact that 70 people were killed on Swindon's streets in 2007-08 was proof that speed cameras were not making roads safer.
It's not just councils that are suddenly backing away from fixed speed cameras now they're no longer getting kickbacks from central government. It's even the police:

Some 1,227,000 fines were handed out in 2008, earning more than £73 million for the Government – or more than £201,000 a day. In comparison, 713,000 fines were handed out in 1997.

However, there has been a sharp drop in fines from fixed cameras, as opposed to mobile police units, since police and local authority partnership(s) could no longer keep the cash. (emphasis added)
The same report from the UK Telegraph also highlights the objections of road safety campaigners to the wide spread of fixed speed cameras that Queensland, and indeed all money-hungry Australian state governments would like to impose here:

Road safety campaigners last night said motorists had been "hunted" for profit while the huge revenues have done little to improve conditions on the roads or driver behaviour.

Jennifer Dunn, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Motorists have paid a fortune in speeding fines over the last decade and there is no real sign that the system has succeeded in changing people’s behaviour. It is clear that speeding fines are more about raking in cash than making the roads safer, and as a result they have given the law a bad name. It doesn’t help anyone to have a situation where motorists feel like they are being hunted for profit rather than protected by the forces of law and order.”

...Prior to April 2007, funds from roadside cameras went so-called safety camera partnerships to be ploughed back in to road safety. It led to accusations of the system being used as a money generator with more and more cameras being bought to target more and more motorists.

Last year MPs heard that there was a surge in the use of the national safety camera programme between 2001 and 2007, with the total number of sites increasing from 1,672 to 4,737. But the latest figures show that in 2006, there were 1.6 million fines from fixed cameras but by 2008 that figure had fallen by a third to 1.02 million.

Claire Armstrong, co-founder of Safe Speed, said: "We will end up with a billion pounds in speeding fines.

"You should never measure safe driving by miles per hour (emphasis added). To run the whole of road safety to the tune of nearly £1 billion is doing nothing for road safety.

"It is not going to be improved just by purely sticking up a few cameras and taking police off the roads and it does nothing for the relationship between the public and the police."

-- Nick