VicRoads promises strong response to speeding shortcomings


Speeding probe leads to investigation into internal exemptions over past three years

 

Victorian roads authority VicRoads has pledged that it has tightened up management oversight of its officers following a critical Ombudsman’s report.

Certain VicRoads employees were found to be routinely breaking the speed limit in official enforcement vehicles without using warning lights and sirens.

The behaviour of some officers in the Transport Safety Services (TSS) unit at VicRoads came to light after a complaint by a whistleblower last October, the Ombudsman’s office says.

TSS is VicRoads’ heavy vehicle enforcement arm but incidents investigated do not appear related to that responsibility.

"People with the power to enforce the law and impose penalties on others must be held to the highest possible standards when it comes to their own conduct," Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass says.

"It is a worrying state of affairs when those charged with enforcing the rules not only flout them, but have no qualm in doing so."

The investigation was limited to one region, examining 18 speeding infringements recorded against VicRoads vehicles over a two-year period, with all but one of those investigated originating at the Burwood office in eastern Melbourne.

One VicRoads enforcement officer told investigators officers "can’t do their jobs" if they did not break the law, yet it was alleged that at least one exemption was given to an officer who was not involved in enforcement.

"Given the problems identified in this region, the lack of internal controls to monitor exemptions and the confused data, I am recommending that VicRoads review all exemptions approved in the past three years and take appropriate action in relation to any staff who either incurred or approved an exemption inappropriately," Glass says

She recommended disciplinary action against two VicRoads officers, in line with Victorian public service guidelines, though adverse comments were directed at two directors and one executive director.

Glass also made a number of other recommendations on improved training of staff and developing review procedures to prevent a re‑occurrence.

VicRoads CEO John Merritt states the organisation was undertaking a robust response.

"VicRoads has been working with the Ombudsman throughout her investigation and accepts all of the recommendations made," Merritt says.

"I am very disappointed in the actions of these two VicRoads staff; this is completely unacceptable behaviour.

"We tightened our procedures last year to eliminate this practice and I am confident that it won’t happen again.

"There is new leadership overseeing this important area and we are determined to improve our performance.

"We will commence the disciplinary process immediately for these two officers and an investigation of all speeding fine exemptions over the past three years is well underway."

The full report can be found here.

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook