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United Kingdom Government Transportation

British Spies To Be Allowed To Break Speed Limit 278

Posted by samzenpus
from the live-and-let-speed dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Telegraph reports, 'Britain's spies are to be given a "licence to speed" for the first time, under changes to motoring laws. While James Bond would no doubt have scorned such niceties, officers in MI5 and MI6 are currently required to obey the rules of the road, even when national security is under threat. Now Robert Goodwill, the transport minister, intends to add the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service to the group of agencies with permission to break the speed limit.'"
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British Spies To Be Allowed To Break Speed Limit

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:07AM (#45936281)

    ... because we can be certain that intelligence agencies previously never broke the law.

    • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob.hotmail@com> on Monday January 13, 2014 @01:14AM (#45936619) Journal
      Well, now they're licensed to kill, though with a motor vehicle rather than a Walther or Beretta..
    • by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday January 13, 2014 @01:36AM (#45936711) Homepage

      As long as they have emergency lights on the vehicle it should be OK.

      Speeding without indication to other drivers would be to cause unnecessary danger, and it will of course cause someone to cut them off just because as well as some cops stopping them instead.

      • by isorox (205688)

        As long as they have emergency lights on the vehicle it should be OK.

        Speeding without indication to other drivers would be to cause unnecessary danger, and it will of course cause someone to cut them off just because as well as some cops stopping them instead.

        As long as they have emergency lights on the vehicle it should be OK.

        Speeding without indication to other drivers would be to cause unnecessary danger, and it will of course cause someone to cut them off just because as well as some cops stopping them instead.

        Unmarked police cars often speed without lights on. At least they used to 15 years ago when there was a police presence on the motorway.

        The ones that cause danger are the cars doing 40mph on the motorways you have a stream of traffic trying to merge doing 60, they encounter an idiot going dangerously slow in the inside lane, and a wall of lorries overtaking said idiot at 56mph.

        Ui motorwys need a minimum speed, with the death penalty for those going slower.

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        doesn't mean they like the cops and fire service have a blank ticket to speed if you do it recklessly you can still get done for careless driving according to a fire service guy i talked to a few years go.
  • by bob_jenkins (144606) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:13AM (#45936323) Homepage Journal

    If the Secret Intelligence Service tries to get away with speeding, they have to reveal who they are, then they aren't secret anymore. In fact anyone speeding might be revealing they're in the Secret Intelligence Service.

    • by c0lo (1497653) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:25AM (#45936383)

      If the Secret Intelligence Service tries to get away with speeding, they have to reveal who they are, then they aren't secret anymore. In fact anyone speeding might be revealing they're in the Secret Intelligence Service.

      Doh... spies nowadays.
      I was told the KGB spies, under no matter the circumstances, were trained and able to break the speed limits in secret.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What do you expect from a government that is so behind the times that they think this is a relevant problem in today's society?

      At this rate, by 2054, they'll be legally able to make calls from their cell phones in moments of national emergency even if they are out of daytime minutes.

      • What are those daytimes minutes you speak of? Is your country so behind the times that the amount of minutes you can speak with your cellphone isn't unlimited?

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      If the Secret Intelligence Service tries to get away with speeding, they have to reveal who they are, then they aren't secret anymore. In fact anyone speeding might be revealing they're in the Secret Intelligence Service.

      don't worry this is a matter of national security .......Yes officer i could show you my license but then I'd have to kill you.

    • If the Secret Intelligence Service tries to get away with speeding, they have to reveal who they are, then they aren't secret anymore. In fact anyone speeding might be revealing they're in the Secret Intelligence Service.

      You missed the "intelligence" bit. Breaking speed limits is now _legal_ for them instead of illegal. If they are caught, they still get a speeding ticket and it gets paid, by the Secret Service if it was done on duty and by the agent if he had no excuse, so nobody knows that they are Secret Service. This isn't about not paying fines, it is about legality. Whether an agent is allowed legally to keep up with a speeding criminal or not.

  • Sirens? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BringsApples (3418089) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:13AM (#45936327)
    It compares the current list of public services that are allowed to speed (fire, police and ambulance) to the new list (Vehicles used to carry organs for transplant, bomb disposal units, mountain rescue teams and those engaged in “surveillance and covert operations”). But nowhere does it mention that they'll have a siren. If someone is driving really really fast where normally people aren't driving really really fast, and hits someone, killing one or more, I wonder how it'll play out on court.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Prough (2730467)
      "Your honor, the deceased motorist was clearly a terrorist."
      Judge - "Well, alright then. Dismissed! Anyone for a spot of tea?"
      • Judge: Do you have any evidence for this allegation?
        Spy: Yes! We have lots of evidence, but you aren't cleared to see any of it. But trust us, we are absolutely certain the woman and her two children were actually a cell leader and two suicide bombers, and were about to attack the school they've been going to for 3 years.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Judge: Do you have any evidence for this allegation?

          1. Of course they are guilty. If they weren't, they wouldn't be suspects, would they?
          2. Why would you ask such a question? Are you one of them?

    • by Megahard (1053072)

      So all you need is to carry one of these in your car

      http://www.amazon.com/Fred-Emergency-Meal-Transport/dp/B007M2OHEY/ [amazon.com]

    • Permission without responsibility.

      As much as I encourage erring on the cautious side as opposed to assumptions, no good has ever come from permission without responsibility.

      Some, of course, but overall we are still negative on balance. A siren would be the minimal responsibility, since others already have that requirement

      The survey was intentionally vague, that is a sure warning sign. Be wary.

      Sources said that 93 per cent of people who responded to the proposal backed the idea of extending speed limit exemp

      • Permission without responsibility.

        Where do you get that from? What is legal for them is driving at higher speed than the speed limit. What is still not legal is dangerous driving, causing damage to others, or injuring or killing other people. In case of an accident, they will be just as much at fault as before, except they won't get a speeding ticket.

        Just like an ambulance car is allowed to drive past a red traffic light: They don't have the right of way, and they are required to do this with all the necessary care to avoid accidents.

    • by MrKaos (858439)

      It compares the current list of public services that are allowed to speed (fire, police and ambulance) to the new list (Vehicles used to carry organs for transplant, bomb disposal units, mountain rescue teams and those engaged in “surveillance and covert operations”). But nowhere does it mention that they'll have a siren. If someone is driving really really fast where normally people aren't driving really really fast, and hits someone, killing one or more, I wonder how it'll play out on court.

      Barrister; Your Worship, you will note that my client is in possession of a licence to Kill and a license to speed. Clearly any evidence pertaining to matters of motivation for my client use of these licences is a matter of National Security. As you are aware you worship that under the law no offence has been commited and I would ask for a summary dismissal of all charges.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:17AM (#45936341)

    so now they can keep up with other traffic

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by michelcolman (1208008)

      You jest, but in Belgium we actually had a lawsuit a few weeks ago where police officers were accused of speeding through a red light while chasing gangsters after a robbery. They are legally allowed to go through red lights, but only after having stopped first to make sure it's safe to cross. The criminals, of course, tend to just keep going at the same speed.

      Fortunately for all of us, the judge applied some common sense and let them off the hook. Otherwise you could forget about police ever chasing a crim

      • by tomtomtom (580791) on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:17AM (#45938805)
        Actually I'd be quite happy if the police were banned from engaging in high-speed car chases. They just create more danger for everyone else on the road, encouraging those being chased to drive even more dangerously as well as the risk that the police cars themselves cause an accident. There are other ways of catching criminals which do not create such danger for the rest of us.
  • by mark-t (151149) <`markt' `at' `lynx.bc.ca'> on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:19AM (#45936361) Journal
    Sure, the spy may have a license to speed, but if he doesn't have to follow the speed limit, another driver on the same road is going to be correspondingly less able to anticipate how to react safely to another driver who may be cruising at over double the speed limit.

    What about construction zones? What about school zones?

    This kind of thing is so utterly likely to get completely innocent people killed that I expect to see it being discontinued within a week of implementation.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Sure, the spy may have a license to speed, but if he doesn't have to follow the speed limit, another driver on the same road is going to be correspondingly less able to anticipate how to react safely to another driver who may be cruising at over double the speed limit.

      And this is a good thing, citizen: the terrorists won't be able to anticipate it either.
      Don't you feel safer already?

    • Well depends if it is with a siren or not.
      It works pretty well for emergency vehicles currently who do use sirens and lights.

      Kinda defeats the point of being an intelligence agent though.

    • by cyn1c77 (928549)

      Sure, the spy may have a license to speed, but if he doesn't have to follow the speed limit, another driver on the same road is going to be correspondingly less able to anticipate how to react safely to another driver who may be cruising at over double the speed limit.

      What about construction zones? What about school zones?

      This kind of thing is so utterly likely to get completely innocent people killed that I expect to see it being discontinued within a week of implementation.

      Last I checked (in the US), most civilians don't follow the speed limit in construction or school zones. So I think this will play out just fine.

      In fact, I usually assume that anyone driving under the speed limit is either drunk or has warrants out on them.

    • by Xest (935314)

      In all honesty I don't think it'll make the slightest bit of difference.

      Really, the number of agents in the UK, and the number who are in a situation where they need to use their power to speed is so vanishingly small they'll be completely lost amongst the general public who speed.

      They're not common enough that the majority of the population will ever even see an MI5 or MI6 agent, let alone see one speeding.

    • by horza (87255)

      What about construction zones? What about school zones? It's not the movie Speed where if the car goes below a certain speed it explodes. It's about well trained operatives driving as appropriate to the situation. The limits are so ridiculously low in the UK the population could drive 2x the speed limit without problem.

      If an MI5 agent is following a suspect, it seems a bit absurd that the suspect could get away because they were driving 35mph.

      Phillip.

  • Moving surveillance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:23AM (#45936377) Journal

    I had a house-mate once who was a (non-UK) law enforcement officer, and he talked about "moving surveillance" (i.e. trailing suspects in a car.) They'd typically have three cars in such an operation, so that they could take turns being close to the suspect without arousing suspicion.

    He said that according to the law, officers fully obeyed road laws during such an operation, but unofficially, it was impossible to do so. Once he got pulled over by a traffic cop, who, seeing his radio, maps etc. and badge, profusely apologized and sent him back on his way.

    I imagine that moving surveillance is what they are envisioning 'spies' using this power for, rather than using an Aston Martin to chase an assassin motorcyclist through a built-in-middle-ages town on market day.

    I do think it is better to recognize the reality of the situation, then you can put regulations and guidelines around what is and is not acceptable. You can't issue guidelines on how to handle a situation you pretend doesn't exist.

    • by whoever57 (658626)
      Since MI6 is supposed to be responsible for foreign intelligence and foreign operations, the justification for MI6 to be able to break speed limits seems rather poor.
    • ...using an Aston Martin to chase an assassin motorcyclist through a built-in-middle-ages town on market day.

      When will unlicenced use of a gyrocopter be permitted?

  • Just because there isn't a current exemption from law for them, does not mean the law applies to them. When you are above the law, you do not need an exemption from laws that do not apply to you.
  • Yes, Officer I was speeding.
    Why was I speeding, well you see, I'm an agent of MI6.
    No I cannot give you credentials as I am currently on a covert op.
    Kindly let me go or I will have my superior contact your superior and have you demoted to foot patrol!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If I tell you why I'm speeding, I'd have to kill you.

  • by mendax (114116) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:40AM (#45936467)

    When I last visited the UK drivers drove like maniacs on the motorway. Speed limits seemed to be universally ignored. 100 miles per hour seemed to be typical.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 0123456 (636235)

      When I last visited the UK drivers drove like maniacs on the motorway. Speed limits seemed to be universally ignored. 100 miles per hour seemed to be typical.

      And British motorways are among the safest roads on the planet, thereby demonstrating that speed limits have little to do with safety.

      • And British motorways are among the safest roads on the planet, thereby demonstrating that speed limits have little to do with safety.

        It has more to do with the reality that on the M25, you are glad if you can go 50mph. You don't need speed limits if you have traffic jams.

        • by GauteL (29207)

          "You don't need speed limits if you have traffic jams."

          Actually, you may need speed limits, not for safety but for reducing the traffic jam. Traffic jams are caused by sudden stops on the motorway and the fact that acceleration is not instant. This causes a shock wave propagating backwards throughout the motorway becoming much worse as it travels backwards.

          They've found that if they can manage to reduce the speed of traffic at peak hours everyone gets into London quicker. It's much better everyone travels a

    • by bickerdyke (670000) on Monday January 13, 2014 @04:33AM (#45937343)

      And all of them driving in the wrong lane!

    • by Xest (935314) on Monday January 13, 2014 @05:27AM (#45937501)

      Few people genuinely obey the speed limit but 100mph is pushing it, I rarely ever see people go that speed on UK motorways and for good reason - you'll receive an instant ban from driving for doing so.

      Motorway speed limit is 70mph, speed cameras (fixed and in police vehicles) normally have a leeway of 10% + 2mph, so 79mph on a 70mph road before you get caught. If it's your first time getting caught you can in most places go on a speed awareness course and avoid points on your license if you were only speeding within an additional 5mph on top. Speedometers almost always overestimate by a few mph at that speed, so when people are going 80mph on their speedometers the chances are they're under the actual limit that speed cameras are calibrated to catch them at. Some will push it up to 85mph if they've never been caught before and risk a mere course if they did get caught on the off-chance (but frankly from what I've seen even at 85mph as long as the conditions are good and the road is clear the cops wont pull you anyway). A few people push it up to 90mph and chance it, and at that speed the cops will pull you, but 100mph is uncommon, you'll see it maybe what, once per hundred miles on a motorway if that? Most people just aren't willing to risk the chance of an instant ban from driving to go that fast.

  • Some dumb shit in the MI5 who does nothing but read Iranian Porn all day gets to drive like a maniac all they way back to their stupid hole in Brentwood. Because he needs that level of Freedom to protect the Queen. Assholes.
    • by Xest (935314)

      If they're just lumping them into the same category as police etc. then they wont be able to speed just because they want to get home faster. They still have to be able to provide justification.

      IIRC even ambulance drivers aren't actually even supposed to speed unnecessarily and possibly even without police permission so it may well be the same for the security services (which will also avoid the embarrassment of a cop pulling a spy over). This is why you often see ambulances only going 70mph even with their

  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:52AM (#45936533) Homepage Journal

    How many people die in traffic accidents compared to terrorist attacks?

  • So is this why James Bond is never speeding in the movies?
  • ...which would get you into the houses of parliament even if the name says G Fawkes and you have a barrel of gunpowder under your arm.

  • A couple of decades ago there was a special forces unit, 14 Intelligence Company, who did undercover operations, primarily in Northern Ireland. I've read a couple of books about it (this is a good one: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Operators-Inside-Intelligence-Company/dp/0099728710 [amazon.co.uk]) and they all mention how operatives were given training in advanced driving.

    In one instance, they were pulled over by police during training, but when they provided a code word they were allowed to continue.

    So I guess they've alw

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      A couple of decades ago there was a special forces unit, 14 Intelligence Company, who did undercover operations, primarily in Northern Ireland. I've read a couple of books about it (this is a good one: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Operators-Inside-Intelligence-Company/dp/0099728710 [amazon.co.uk]) and they all mention how operatives were given training in advanced driving.

      In one instance, they were pulled over by police during training, but when they provided a code word they were allowed to continue.

      So I guess they've always been doing this, but now it's just been formalised.

      Special services officer: I can prove I'm secret services - I'll tell you the code word its "Guinness"
      Police constable Paddy: very good sir - be on your way
      Police constable Mick: wait a minute - how do we know that this is the secret word?
      Police constable Paddy: good point mick - hey wait fella, how do we know that's the secret wordPolice constable Paddy: Special services officer: its nice to see you guys are so smart. I'll tell you what Paddy. I'll tell Mick the secret word then you can check with him

    • by ray-auch (454705)

      I am pretty sure they have always been doing this. Also that they have "no stop" plates, and high performance cars, cars that are armoured and probably have strange buttons you shouldn't' press unless you know exactly what they do... I suspect they don't bother with blue lights / sirens unless they particularly want to pretend to be police, in which case they probably can do that too.

      All allegedly, of course.

      Bigger question is why formalise it now ? Maybe Snowden has material to embarrass the UK govt by

  • If you're Bill Murray, all you need is a cigarette case

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hP-u6XWclKQ [youtube.com]

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb

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