The following information highlights a systemic failing within Victoria's judiciary. In particular, that of the Traffic Camera Office who tampers with, alters and falsifies Traffic Camera Offence evidence and in doing so, prosecute motorists under a false pretence of fact on the Traffic Infringement Notices they issue.
The Approximate Time of Offence is the matter I bring to your attention.
1. Victoria's Infringements Act 2006 SECT 13 states:
Forms of infringement notice;
An infringement notice must- (a) be in writing and contain the prescribed details.
2. Victoria's Infringements (Reporting and Prescribed Details and Forms) Regulations 2006 SECT 8 states:
Infringement Notice (1) For the purposes of section 13 of the Act, the prescribed details which an infringement notice must contain are- (g) the date and approximate time and place of the infringement offence alleged to have been committed.
Speed and red light cameras record the time of offence in 24-hour clock system format. This format is to International Standards 8601 and was adopted by Australian Standards in 1989. The current Australian Standard is;
AS ISO 8601 – 2007
Data elements and interchange
Representation of dates and times
Pages 15 & 16 of the Standard reads;
4.2 Time of day
This International Standard is based on the 24-hour time keeping system that is now in common use. In expressions of time of day
- hour is represented by two digits from  to . The representation of the hour by
 is only allowed to indicate the end of a calendar day, see 4.2.3.
- minute is represented by two digits from  to .
- second is represented by two digits from  to . The representation of the second by  is only allowed to indicate a positive leap second or an instant within that second.
220.127.116.11 Complete representations
When the application identifies the need for an expression of local time then the complete representation shall be a single numeric expression comprising six digits in the basic format, where [hh] represents hours, [mm] minutes and [ss] seconds.
Basic format: hhmmss Example: 232050
Extended format: hh:mm:ss Example: 23:20:50
Digital speed cameras record time in the extended format of the Standard.
-Victoria's Evidence Act 2008 – SECT 185 (Full faith and credit to be given to documents properly authenticated)
[hh:mm:ss] hh is the number of complete hours that have passed since midnight, mm is the number of complete minutes since the start of the hour, and ss is the number of complete seconds since the start of the minute. Example: 23:59:59 represents the time one second before midnight.
Serco Traffic Camera Services along with SGS Australia are contracted to operate and maintain Victoria’s speed/red light camera network. When an offending vehicle is detected by a digital speed camera, information such as; location of camera, speed limit, speed of vehicle, direction of vehicle’s travel, date and time of day is captured/recorded and stored on a ‘data bar’ attached to each and every photograph. Wet-film camera's record on a 'data block'. The Gatsometer digital speed data bar provides 17 absolute data elements relating to the offence, superimposed in the picture at the time of the offence inside the camera itself. The data bar and image are treated as one co-joined component as they are transmitted in encrypted format to a data processing center, i.e. Serco. This information is encrypted to avoid tampering with or manipulation of data, safeguarding the evidentiary chain. When these devices record time, it is done to International Standards 8601, that being; [hh:mm:ss] hours, minutes, seconds, each containing two digits. This information is downloaded electronically by Serco, then transcribed by a prescribed process which converts the recorded information and in particular; time of offence from 24-hour clock format to 12-hour clock format, i.e. Example [13:30:00] is recorded then converted to [1:30:00] with a PM (Post Meridiem) symbol placed along side the numerals thereafter. This transcribed information is attached to a copy of the photographic image and replaces the information contained/recorded on the original Speed data bar. The transcribed offence data with photograph is then forwarded to the Traffic Camera Office at 277 William Street for assessment.
Under ‘Fixed freeway speed cameras; Fixed radar’ section on the Victorian Justice Department website www.justice.vic.gov.au it claims;
Each photograph is subjected to rigorous verification processes before it is authorised by Victoria Police as a valid infringement.
Initially, each photograph is assessed by a qualified and trained verifications officer. A second officer then reviews the decision.
Prior to any infringement being issued, each camera session is reviewed and authorised by sworn police officers of the Victoria Police Traffic Camera Office.
The Traffic Camera Office creates Traffic Infringement Notices from information contained within the offence photograph forwarded to them by Serco. The Traffic Camera Office falsifies the time of offence on its notices by using leading zeros where they shouldn’t. By doing so, Australian Standards 8601 is contravened and the time misconstrued, i.e. 01:30 is the 1st hour + 30 minutes of a new day, or 1 hour + 30 minutes past midnight. 01:30 is and can only be AM, not PM. The Traffic Camera Office ignores explicit information Serco provides them with, i.e. the 24-hour notation transcribed to the 12-hour notation correctly by a prescribed process without leading zeros.
Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory all abide by Australian Standards 8601 and use the 24-hour notation on their speed/red light camera Traffic Infringement Notices.
-Victoria's Evidence Act 1958 – SECT 77 (Australasian States and their Acts to be judicially noticed)
Tasmania converts the 24-hour notation to the 12-hour notation correctly on its Speed Camera Traffic Infringement Notices. They do not use leading zeros.
The United Kingdom also use the 24-hour notation.
-Victoria's Evidence Act 1958 – SECT 76 (Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom to be judicially noticed)
Victoria and New South Wales mix a combination of 24-hour with 12-hour notations on their speed/red light Traffic Infringement Notices ignoring both Australian Standards 8601 and transcribed evidence, i.e. the Approximate Time of Offence on Infringement Notices between 'alleged' times of 01:00PM and 09:59PM are incorrect, false and indeed non-existent due to leading zeros only recognised and used in the 24-hour clock notations AM cycle. That said; the 24-hour notation doesn't use or recognise AM/PM symbols. (Refer Deciphering Time! document)
As a result of this ignorant, yet obvious oversight; Police Officers within Victoria’s Traffic Camera Office along with Civic Compliance Victoria and certain divisions within the Justice Department have committed and clearly breached the following;
AS ISO 8601 – 2007 Australian Standard
Infringements Act 2006 - SECT 167 Offence to give false information
Evidence Act 1958 - SECT 137 Penalty for falsely recording evidence
Crimes Act 1958 - SECT 82 Obtaining financial advantage by deception
“ “ SECT 83A Falsification of documents
“ “ SECT 181 Aiding and abetting offences within or outside Victoria
“ “ SECT 314 Perjury
“ “ SECT 320 Perverting the course of justice
“ “ SECT 321 Conspiracy to commit an offence
“ “ SECT 321G Incitement
I have been informed by the Justice Department that offences can be reheard by a Magistrate if desired, even though considerable time has elapsed since the alleged initial offence and payment of penalty has taken place.
If a current/outstanding Infringement Notice were contested, the Magistrate has; Power to amend where there is a defect or error under Victoria's Magistrates’ Court Act 1989 – SECT 50
Magistrates don’t receive copies of motorists Infringement Notices from the Traffic Camera Office when hearing proceedings. Magistrates are forwarded relevant details including the time of offence in a correct format and hence; don’t see or even realise motorists are being prosecuted under a false pretence of fact on Traffic Infringement Notices issued by the Traffic Camera Office.
If a Magistrate corrected an Approximate Time of Offence on a notice by eliminating the leading zero, it would be an admission of liability and open a ‘Pandora’s box’ of litigation from motorists who have been falsely prosecuted in the past by the Traffic Camera Office. The problem with false times goes back more than six years, possibly even ten. The amount would equate to around half of all Traffic Camera Infringement Notices issued. As such, the penalty amounts plus accrued interest and demerit points will have to be refunded to all parties affected. This will run into billions of dollars. Re-issuing corrected Notices beyond 12 months cannot occur under Victoria's Magistrates Court Act 1989 – SECT 26 subsection (4) a proceeding for a summary offence must be commenced not later than 12 months after the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed.
Motorists alleged to have committed offences within the past 12 months may be ineligible for recompense. The Traffic Camera Office could refund monies/demerit points illegally taken, then reissue with corrected Infringement Notices. Never the less, the Traffic Camera Office and in particular; Issuing Officer: ‘Officer in Charge’ are subject to Indictable Offences. Prosecution is the best course of action in order to get recompense for all parties affected. Reimbursement is likely with pending prosecution plus the loss of public confidence and trust with Victoria’s Traffic Camera system.
The following statements by Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Ken Lay were made to the Herald Sun and The Age newspapers in November 2009 with regard to Sergeant Mark Ashton, a Victoria Police sergeant sacked for issuing speeding drivers with smaller fines than the law required. According to Deputy Commissioner Lay, Sergeant Ashton had been maintaining the practice for the last 10 years and he had no choice but to sack Sgt Ashton, who had misrepresented facts in documents. (The very thing the Traffic Camera Office have been doing)
Statements made in the Herald Sun by Deputy Commissioner Lay;
- He had no choice but to sack a police officer who allegedly falsified speeding fines.
- Deputy Commissioner Lay said the allegations were not trifling.
- He said he had no choice but to sack Sgt Ashton, who had misrepresented facts in documents.
- They (the public) don’t expect them to falsify documents.
Statements made in The Age by the Deputy Commissioner;
- The officer had recorded incorrect details on at least 250 tickets in the past year and had admitted continuing the practice for the last 10 years.
- Information recorded in traffic infringement notices is considered to be evidence and is intended to be presented in court.
- By recording incorrect information on these notices, the sergeant has knowingly attempted to pervert the course of justice and has allowed offenders to escape the appropriate penalty that they rightfully deserve.
A police spokeswoman said the officer had been dismissed following an Ethical Standards Department investigation into allegations of misconduct and perverting the course of justice.
Deputy Commissioner Lay said in his statement that after several discussions with the member involved, he was not confident the sergeant understood the consequences or the seriousness of his actions, nor had he displayed a willingness to comply with policy guidelines in the future.