GoSafe a ‘waste of public money’ – judge

Judge Patrick Durcan criticises private speed camera company over prosecutions

The GoSafe consortium secured the €80 million Garda Síochána contract to operate the network of speed camera vans. Photograph: David Chadwick/Getty Images

The GoSafe consortium secured the €80 million Garda Síochána contract to operate the network of speed camera vans. Photograph: David Chadwick/Getty Images

 


A judge yesterday described the failure of a private firm operating speed camera vans to successfully prosecute alleged speeding motorists as “a complete waste of public money”.

At Kilrush District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan lambasted the firm, GoSafe, stating “I am reaching the point where I believe I should refuse to entertain these matters because of the time wasted in court. This country can’t afford it.”

Judge Durcan made his comments after four GoSafe-connected prosecutions failed with the judge dismissing two and striking out the remaining two.

The judge also expressed concern over recent remarks made by Gay Byrne, chairman of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), on how the courts are dealing with speeding motorists.


Substantial profits
The GoSafe consortium secured the €80 million Garda Síochána contract to operate the network of speed camera vans in 2009 and the consortium’s most recent accounts show that it was recording operating profits of almost €50,000 a week in 2012.

The GoSafe cameras operate on sections of road which have a history of speed-related collisions and the areas where they are operating are available on the Garda website.

The GoSafe-connected prosecutions in court appear on the court list under Insp John McDonald, who is responsible for the fixed-charge processing unit in Thurles.

Addressing the two GoSafe officials in the court yesterday, Judge Durcan said that he made comments relating to the fixed-charge penalty system in Ennis last month and noted that a third official was in court yesterday taking down everything that he said.


‘Unenviable position’
Judge Durcan told Supt Séamus Nolan of Kilrush Garda Station: “You have been put into an unenviable position of trying to prosecute cases where matters have been so badly and so appallingly put together by Insp McDonald and his team.

“The sooner this is highlighted the better – the complete waste of public money by these people who come into court who don’t know or don’t happen to be told how to prosecute simple road traffic matters.”

Not naming Mr Byrne, Judge Durcan said that at the same time, the head of the RSA was “making comments about the courts and the way these matters are dealt with and about the inadequacies about fines and penalties”.

He said: “It puts the courts and the judiciary in a most difficult situation when matters, as I say, are so appallingly presented in court on these matters.

“The gardaí come in and do their job perfectly in relation to those matters and you have this quango, this private company retained to prosecute these matters and one after one after one, their prosecutions seem to fall for one bad reason after another. It is most disappointing,” he said.