> But if I am simply handed a fixed penalty no matter how innocent I may be. I would be mad to go to court - the costs, even of a successful defence, would massively outweigh the fixed penalty. Except in the rare circumstance where the defence is very simple and even then I have to take time off work for the court case, which again will cost me more than a fixed penalty.
So... your argument is that fixed penalties should be done away with, so that instead of being given a fixed penalty, you get prosecuted instead, so that THEN you can plead "not guilty"? Errmmm... and how does that represent any financial saving (or even a different option at all to a request for a hearing in lieu of the fixed penalty) over what you describe above?
Logically, your argument is therefore "I don't like fixed penalties, because they remove my opportunity to plead not guilty and incur exactly the same expenses and time off work as if I requested a Court hearing for a fixed penalty"... ?????
> But if I am simply handed a fixed penalty no matter how innocent I may be. I would be mad to go to court
What's your estimate of the proportion of innocent people given a fixed penalty notice, compared to "all people given a fixed penalty notice"? 100%? 99.9%? Really, I'm interested in your estimate! And if you don't pay the fixed penalty, you don't get tasered, either... (relevance to the thread!)
It would be a useful exercise for you to identify the hordes of predatory public officials who issue fixed penalties to completely innocent people, with neither the evidence to support the allegation, nor any heed for the fact that said innocent party can apply for a Court hearing - where it is open to the magistrates to make a costs order against the prosecuting authority if applied for by an acquitted defendant (I note that you don't mention this in your response). Don't you think that these hundreds of thousands of miscarriages of justice might eventually attract some judicial comment, or be the subject of concern from elected representatives?
The whole point of the process is to allow anyone who agrees that they've committed an offence to pay the fixed penalty instead of being prosecuted, and thereby to avoid exactly the expense and time off work to attend Court that you yourself list in your original comment. The fact that a very small proportion of the general population has a problem with the fixed penalty system, notwithstanding that it's a legitimate enforcement tactic, approved by Parliament and avoided by all those who don't offend in the first place, is rather sad - and, I should add, tough titty. Anyone who thinks they are innocent, can go to Court. Jeez, it couldn't be any simpler or fairer!
Your beef sounds like sour grapes or an extremist rant, to me. The rest of us are just grateful that our hard-earned pay, from which we are regularly parted by excessive taxation, isn't wasted on pointless Court administration for numpties who are angry at themselves for getting caught (speeding, or whatever) in the first place (and can't afford First Class justice = acquittal, a la Nick Freeman, but that's another story...). Yes, I'm a police officer, and I'm not clairvoyant, but I will bet that you're NOT a police officer, and that you've been the recipient of a fixed penalty... don't ask me how I do it, though! :-)
> How stupid do you think people are?
Well, as you've asked, *most* people aren't, but there are high-profile exceptions every now and then... :-)