Police use "discretionary powers" with Prince Philip over not wearing a seatbelt
PUBLISHED: 19:27 21 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:13 22 January 2019
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More than half of Norfolk drivers caught not wearing seatbelt undertake a training course as fewer fines are issued each year.
It comes as the Duke of Edinburgh was given “words of advice” by police as images emerged of him driving without a seatbelt days after his crash on the A149, near Sandringham.
Images published on Saturday appear to show Prince Philip behind the wheel of a replacement Freelander on a public road on the Queen’s Sandringham estate.
The 97-year-old passed a police eyesight test on Saturday morning as the investigation into Thursday’s crash continues, with police saying that “any appropriate action” will be taken if necessary.
Norfolk Police has said officers can use “discretionary powers” to settle offences of not wearing a seatbelt through words of advice, as in Prince Philip’s case.
Figures posted by Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary show the vast majority of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued for seatbelt offences are now cancelled - 78pc of the 1,640 recorded in 2017.
The bulk of those FPNs are withdrawn after drivers elect the offer of a training course. 60pc of drivers caught not wearing a seatbelt in Norfolk in 2018 settled the matter with a training course.
A seatbelt offence currently carries a minimum fine of £100. If the case goes to court, this can increase to a maximum fine of £500.
Around 12pc of FPNs given to drivers not wearing a seatbelt in Norfolk and Suffolk in 2017 resulted in court action.
A police spokeswoman said wearing a seatbelt is “compulsory” and is one of the ‘fatal four’ offences making you more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a collision.
“Anyone caught driving without a seatbelt by a police officer is likely to receive a ticket,” she said. “This could see drivers face a fine, receive points on their licence or even court action. Some offenders also have the option to complete an online course.
“However, there will be occasions where officers will use discretionary powers and this will often happen in cases where we have been sent evidence of an offence in either the format of an image or video.
“When making such decisions, we will take a number of factors into consideration including any aggravating factors, the proportionality of the response and previous offending.
“On Saturday we were made aware of a photograph, via the media, showing a driver not wearing a seatbelt. In this case the driver was given suitable words of advice.
“This approach was in line with how we would normally respond after being sent a photograph of someone committing the offence. Drivers would normally be sent a letter providing suitable advice. However, in this case that advice was given verbally on Saturday evening to the driver by a police officer.”