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United Kingdom Government Transportation

British Spies To Be Allowed To Break Speed Limit 278

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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  • 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.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat.cCHICAGOom minus city> 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.

  • 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 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:contradiction? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dunkelfalke ( 91624 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @05:18AM (#45937477)

    I know you are joking, but here [] is a picture of a special Soviet driving license with the right to break the traffic code. Oh, and the car must not be searched.

  • by michelcolman ( 1208008 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @05:32AM (#45937519)

    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 criminal again.

  • by pupsocket ( 2853647 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @07:24AM (#45937911)

    This is the crowd I grew up with, so I may be the unkowning carrier of disinformation, but here is my read:

    All drove very fast. They did get ticketed frequently stateside, but the personnel office had resources. Justifications were welded onto all damage.

    A small number drove mad fast because they couldn't pull out of some high-danger mentality even after the helicopter lift. They flouted the law like city kids who are "in the system", since they felt doomed anyway. You can see that kind of driving around the exits for military bases, where soldiers drive ninety to work because that is their permanent risk profile.

    But most were just trying to feel the thrill, to act like the real thing. They had race-car training and cop evasion training and could surprize you when they decided to treat some ordinary sight as a threat. But they suffered that ordinary human pathetic weakness for emergency powers and a starring role.

    Of course, the British are pioneering. Wait for the feedback effect, when someone challenges the phony backstory for a traffic death, and a file is opened on this new strain of domestic saboteur.

  • by horza ( 87255 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:10AM (#45938261) Homepage

    It depends how you crash. You can crash at 250kph and be fine as long as you don't hit any solid objects head on too early, ie pretty much only on the motorway, but yes your odds are not great. I've driven 250kph down the autobahn and it's quite comfortable if you have the right car. It's not at all dangerous in Germany as the drivers are so courteous. In residential areas, however, you never know when some idiot is going to step out between parked cars without looking.

    Speed limits are now so low that few people heed them any more. It's just a money-making machine, you just accept the fact and pay the additional road "tax". You could remove speed limits and things wouldn't really get any worse (driving fast is not the same as driving dangerously), much as removing the 11pm licensing law didn't plunge Britain into booze-ridden chaos. It doesn't make economic sense to do so though as commuters and school mums are high-income hostages you can bleed regularly to fill the coffers.


  • 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.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel