Proactive release delivers a better service for motorists
The Queensland Police Service (QPS) is one of the largest receivers of applications under the Right to Information and Information Privacy Acts (RTI). The QPS currently receives over 4000 applications every year, and has seen a trend of significant increases in RTI over the last 5 years.
As part of the QPS effort to be open and transparent, and support the RTI objectives of proactive information disclosure, the QPS has engaged with the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) to identify areas where active release schemes can be identified or expanded.
One area that was identified for a greater push for proactive release and education is regarding speed calibration certificates. Motorists detected speeding will sometimes want to confirm the speed detection device was properly calibrated or the officer is currently qualified in its use. Both calibration of the device and qualification of the officer are ordinarily evidenced by the production of a certificate. There has been an increase in interest by motorists regarding such certificates. This increased interest has been in part fuelled by media stories of legal challenges to speeding offences. The QPS experienced an increasing number of RTI request for these certificates, with applications relating to infringements and speeding doubling.
Noting that the fundamental principles of RTI involve the ‘push’ model for proactive release, and that formal applications should be a last resort, front line officers are encouraged to provide calibration and qualification information to motorist upon request. Specifically:
- It is QPS policy, contained in the Traffic Manual, for a motorist to be shown the speed on the device where practicable.
- The Traffic Manual is available on the QPS website along with other corporate policies, under the existing QPS proactive publication scheme.
- If a motorist wishes to question the calibration, they can also be shown those details that are clearly affixed to each device by the calibration laboratory.
- Similarly a person receiving a Traffic Infringement Notice can approach the Officer in Charge who often provides further explanation.
In addition, when speeding is detected by camera, information on the ticket will direct the motorist to an online portal managed by the Department of Transport and Main Road (DTMR). The portal contains larger and more detailed photographs of the offence and further information about how the camera detection program works. Ben Marcus, Assistant Commissioner Road Policing and Regional Support Command says that “by encouraging individuals to engage with the QPS through these channels, and by explaining our speed detection process in a transparent manner, we can build trust with motorists and communicate important road safety messages”.
Such an approach provides multiple options and avenues for motorists to obtain documentation or view information pertaining to certificates and infringements, via proactive access processes. This not only reduces the need for a formal RTI application, it also is beneficial to the Courts, as it reduces the likelihood for matters to be contested thereby also not unnecessarily taking up court time. By making access open and transparent it assists QPS frontline officers, the Courts, and supports the purpose of the RTI legislation to facilitate proactive release of government information. Doug Smith, Deputy Commissioner Strategy and Corporate Services, says that “the QPS has such an important role in protecting Queenslanders, and we are also an organisation committed to upholding the highest standards. We can achieve this by encouraging proactive release of QPS information. The QPS is committed to, where reasonable and possible, providing information to the community to inform the public and build upon the confidence that Queenslanders have in the QPS and our role in protecting the community.”
Many documents are published by the QPS and are publicly available from the QPS on our website, via the Administrative Access Scheme: and our Corporate Documents pages. Additionally, some QPS documents or information can be shown on request under specific policies: for example for the traffic information above you can view the Traffic Manual chapter 6.3.7 “Providing evidence of speed detected to intercepted drivers”.
If you wish to know more about a camera detected offence you can contact your local police station or the Road Safety Camera Office on (07) 3099 6111.