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Police Reform Act 2002

Section 76: Amendments to Part 3 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988

384.The Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 allows for certain motoring offences to be dealt with by issuing a fixed penalty notice. A variety of offences are covered by these provisions, including failure to comply with traffic signs, driving without a licence and not wearing a seatbelt. In these cases a fixed penalty notice may be issued to the offender allowing them to discharge their liability for the offence provided they pay the financial penalty stated.

385.Sections 75 and 76 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (as amended by the Road Traffic Act 1991) concern the powers and procedures for issuing conditional offers. Conditional offers can be issued under the fixed penalty regime for offences where a constable has reason to believe that a fixed penalty offence has been committed and a fixed penalty notice has not been given. Typically conditional offers will be issued for offences detected by an enforcement camera. Section 87 requires the Secretary of State to issue guidance concerning the operation of Part III of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 that includes the provisions for fixed penalty notices.

386.Section 54(9) of the 1988 Act allows a ‘chief officer of police’ to designate ‘authorised persons’ for his ‘police area’ to handle certain aspects of the fixed penalty notice process. This allows a chief officer of police, or someone else on his behalf, to authorise persons at police stations. Such authorised persons can, in certain circumstances, issue fixed penalty notices and receipts for driving licences surrendered to them. The authorised person’s signature may also constitute evidence of service of certain statements.

387.These provisions in the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 contain the phrase ‘chief officer of police’ which, as defined by the 1996 Act, does not apply to the British Transport Police. It is the ‘chief officer of police’ who currently plays a key role in the fixed penalty regime. Thus the British Transport Police cannot issue conditional offers nor can the chief constable designate authorised persons to deal with certain aspects of the fixed penalty process.

388.The amendments proposed in this section will extend these provisions regarding authorised persons and conditional offers to the British Transport Police in England and Wales, so that the chief constable of the British Transport Police can designate authorised persons and conditional offers may be issued by him or on his behalf.

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