Police chief Julie Spence: Speeding is ‘middle class crime’

Julie Spence out on patrol with Pc Luke Coulson. Picture: Chris Radburn
Julie Spence out on patrol with Pc Luke Coulson. Picture: Chris Radburn
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OUTGOING chief constable Julie Spence has slammed speeding motorists as being guilty of “middle class anti-social behaviour” in a hard-hitting interview.

She also criticised the current Government for scrapping the Policing Pledge and imposing massive cuts on police across the country.

Outspoken Mrs Spence (55) also claimed in the interview with a national newspaper that the biggest problem as seen by Cambridgeshire residents was speeding in rural areas and illegal parking by parents outside schools.

She added that drivers consider speeding as acceptable until they lose a child in a road accident.

Mrs Spence, who has been at the head of Cambridgeshire police since 2005, said: “Speeding is middle class anti-social behaviour. People think we should be able to get away 
with it.

“They wouldn’t tolerate lawbreaking by somebody else but they do it themselves without thinking.”

But city MP Stewart Jackson branded Julie Spence as “demob happy” as she is due to leave the force next month.

He added: “I don’t believe that the crime and policing issues in our area are ‘middle class’ – drugs, car crime, burglary, anti-social behaviour and violent crime affect people from all parts of society.

“Julie Spence has been an excellent chief constable but should focus on our local priorities in Peterborough rather than debating social policy in the media.”

Community crime fighter and speedwatch co-ordinator Kevin Bell said speeding was an “every class problem” and the solution lay in educating drivers.

He said: “Speeding was made a policing priority in Dogsthorpe and in one session in Dogsthorpe Road last week we caught 39 vehicles, including three taxis and a bus, so this issue is something that affects 
everyone.”

Mrs Spence’s comments on the potential impact of spending cuts have been the most outspoken yet by a serving officer and she said there was a real “fear” among other chiefs that their budgets could be cut by up to 25 per cent in the autumn spending review.

She also suggests that officers would be willing to take a pay cut or a change in their rates of overtime and allowances, if it meant saving jobs.

But MP for North West Cambridgeshire Shailesh Vara said the cuts should not come as a surprise.

He said: “We made it clear before the election there would be a need for spending cuts across a raft of services. This is something that has had to happen across the board since former chief secretary of the treasury under Labour, Liam Byrne said there was “no money left”.

Mr Vara, whose constituency covers a large rural area, added: “While speeding in some of the villages is a matter of concern there is no getting away from their worries about crime in general.

“Like people in urban areas, they are concerned about the full spectrum of crimes from serious assaults to burglaries and thefts to anti-social behaviour.”