Ask LH: Do Highway Police Need To Meet Ticket Quotas?

Dear Lifehacker, It was recently reported in the news that a highway patrolman was caught writing fake speeding tickets to meet his monthly quota. Is this practice widespread in the Australian police force? If so, what’s to stop people getting slugged with unfair fines on quiet months? Thanks, Law Abider

Photo: Getty Images

Dear LA,

Ticket quotas are something hundreds of cynical motorist suspect they have been victims of. State police departments have staunchly denied the practice, although the evidence suggests that some of them might be fibbing. A bit.

For those who missed last week’s headlines, a NSW highway patrol officer admitted to writing 18 fake tickets for offenses ranging from speeding to inappropriate use of high beam lights. As it turns out, none of the infringements actually occurred and the vehicles didn’t even exist.

Following an internal investigation, the officer plead guilty in court to 18 charges of “modifying restricted data” and three counts of “making false or misleading claims.” He has since been suspended from duty with pay.

The officer in question has denied attempting to reach a quota set by his superiors. But this begs the question: why on Earth would he fabricate fines and risk his job if quotas are not used by police? It just doesn’t add up.

This is not the first piece of evidence relating to the existence of quotas. Back in 2011, a leaked email from Adelaide’s Holden Hill Police Station revealed “minimum targets” for assorted crimes and traffic infringements. Over a five-week period, police were expected to make at least five arrests, for example.

Queensland Police Union President Ian Levers has publicly acknowledged that quotas exist, albeit unofficially. If Levers can be believed, the practice is limited to “some” police stations and only at the behest of “enterprising senior police”.

Meanwhile, it is estimated that traffic fines add around $2 billion to the Australian government’s coffers every year. You can infer from that what you will.


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