Do police traffic offence quotas exist?

DayGlo Queensland Police quotas highlights

The issue of police being directed to meet traffic offence targets or quotas are back in the news in Queensland and South Australia.

The matter generally raises the ire of motorists who say it is proof that police are revenue raisers rather than performing road safety duties.

Critics also say it leads to motorists being fined for minor speeds and diverts police patrols from catching high-range speeders.

Controversial quotas

The quota controversy has been raised after two recent events:

  • In Queensland, emails that set quotas for traffic tickets have been revealed in court by a Gold Coast cop in evidence of bullying by senior officers. Queensland police have always denied the existence of quotas but have again admitted there are “benchmark” expectations or “targets” for officers on various offences.
  • In South Australia, a senior police officer sent an email to staff offering a gift card as an incentive to issue more speeding and traffic fines. SA Police were forced to retract the email and advise that the incentive went against official policy.

Motorists may not be convinced, especially after examples of what they consider blatant revenue-raising such as our recent article about the use of covert TruCAMs on a downhill stretch of Mt Glorious Rd to nab as many speeding riders as possible.

Quota history

Offence quotas (or “benchmarks”, or “targets”) for police are not new.

In the 1970s and ‘80s, the Queensland Bjelke-Petersen government blatantly referred to them as “kill sheets” for traffic and criminal offences.

Officers were required to reach certain targets to gain promotion or face punitive measures such as a long run of “graveyard shifts”.

Rather than promoting road safety and a crackdown on crime, it led to massive police corruption, culminating in the Fitzgerald Inquiry and subsequent jailing of senior cops and politicians.

Quotas exist in various countries at varying levels of legality around the world.

For example, the UK Government ran a two-year pilot project with the Thames Valley force allowing police to claim back a proportion of speeding fines to pay for road safety projects.

Quotas are largely outlawed in democratic countries as unconstitutional.

Yet the practice often continues in a non-official capacity to evaluate the productivity of “slack and lazy officers”, as one former senior cop told us.

  • Are “targets, benchmarks, incentives, kill sheets, or productivity evaluations” just quotas by another name? Leave your comments below.

6 Comments

  1. The NSW H/P have a KPI target (Key Performance Indictor) that is based on revenue. So if a particular H/P unit attached to a Local Area Command (LAC) does not achieve their target for the quarter, they find them self’s with a please explain. That is why they never issue warnings, they just tell you to ‘write-in” and you may get the offence dealt with by way of a caution. A point to remember if you do this, in NSW a caution issued in place of a conviction still appears on your driving record. It is the same when you take a driving matter to Court, the RMS does not automatically amend your record. You have to make application based on the court outcome to have it removed. As to the H/P’s driving ‘style’ the Police are exempt from the ‘Road Rules’ as they are apparently ‘specially trained’ what is bizarre though, is that Ambo’s and the Fire Brigade drivers are not.

  2. Yes, quotas exist. A disgruntled NSW Highway Patrol officer has admitted it to me and claims he was reprimanded for issuing warnings for minor offences instead of tickets. The NSW Highway Patrol are just poor brainwashed morons. Who takes risks doing high speed U-turns in dangerous areas, then speeding well beyond the designated speed limits, all to catch some poor mug for a minor infringemen?. What’s the greater crime here: risking peoples lives for Government revenue, or momentary inattention leading to minor 5 or 10kph speed oversight? And there is something SERIOUSLY WRONG with a country that has it’s Police driving cars that the average person can’t afford (5 series BMWs).

  3. I spoke to one fairly disgruntled senior police officer who was very unhappy with they type of people who were getting promoted. Instead of the cream rising to the top they were being smothered by the scum before they could even start rising. The reason for this is the performance benchmarks etc that officers need to meet. When all you have to do to get ahead is meet or exceed the quotas you get a breed box tickers instead of the kind of people who are actually willing to do the work. Totally incompetent people get promoted and when they prove their ineptitude instead of being sacked they get promoted sideways and become a problem elsewhere , while anyone who actually wants to do the right thing gets bullied and belittled until they become another box ticker.

  4. The term is “Customer contacts”. How does a constable prove to his OIC he has made his required customer contacts… tickets of course. So when discretion would merit a warning or some advice it is thrown out the window in favor of a ticket. Remember the rank and file cannot criticize or disagree with the commissioner once they are sworn in. They have to do what they are instructed to do. Ever noticed they all have the same justifications for their actions… Not unlike a call centre script..

      1. It’s called the New Australia. Most employers won’t allow employees to publicly criticise the company. Public service whistle blowers are looking a jail terms for blowing the lid on government incompetence.

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