Police Superintendent Ben Hanbidge defended an officer who drove at 146kmh in an 80kmh zone
Police Superintendent Ben Hanbidge defended an officer who drove at 146kmh in an 80kmh zone

Police defend right to speed

POLICE have defended their right to break road rules after it was discovered a North Coast officer was caught driving at 173kmh in a 60kmh zone.

The actions of the junior ranking Queensland Police officer on the job and another similar incident close to the scene of a devastating Sunshine Coast multiple fatality have been revealed in documents obtained by the Daily.

Police have been caught speeding on 154 occasions between 2009 and 2011 in the North Coast region, which encompasses Bundaberg, Caboolture, Maryborough, Redcliffe, Gympie and the Sunshine Coast.

On 89 occasions enforcement action by the QPS was waived, including the 173kmh speeding offence committed by a police constable on March 2, 2009.

The QPS also waived any penalty for a senior constable who drove at 146kmh in an 80kmh zone at Woombye on September 2.

The officer was attempting to intercept a motorcyclist travelling 20kmh over the speed limit. The incident occurred within kilometres of the scene where twins Grace and Jessica Hornby and their grandmother were killed months earlier.

Police Superintendent Ben Hanbidge said the officer involved in the Woombye offence had not acted inappropriately.

"Following an investigation into this matter it was determined that the officer was acting lawfully in the execution of his duties when attempting to intercept an offender and was therefore exempt under the Transport Operations Road Use Management Act from any infringement notice," he said.

"The requirement of police to respond to urgent 'code 1 or 2' jobs will always result in the activation of speed or red light cameras at various times."

Michael Hornby, the father of Grace and Jessica, threw his support behind the QPS yesterday.

"If a copper has got to speed to catch people doing the wrong thing, then they should do whatever needs to be done to catch these idiots," Mr Hornby said.

The Queensland Police Union said speeding offences committed by police officers could be justified given the right circumstances.

North Coast region QPU representative Des Hansson said the case of the officer doing 173kmh would have come under "extremely intense" QPS scrutiny.

Mr Hansson said the QPS was unrepentant in internal investigations, spending more than 25% of its budget reviewing police behaviour.

"There are justifying circumstances, if there was a screaming woman, children crying and lives being threatened would you accept a police officer travelling at 70kmh to respond?" he said.

Sixty-five officers caught speeding between 2009 and 2011 were fined while facing possible internal disciplinary action.

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