Speeding police accused of 'stealth tactics' after hiding behind rubbish

POLICE have been accused of "stealth tactics" after hiding behind a wheelie bin to catch speeding drivers in Edinburgh.

Motoring organisations hit out at the actions of the plain clothes officers after they were caught on camera themselves on McDonald Road yesterday.

After clocking speeding motorists from their unusual hideaway, they signalled to officers further up the road to pull the offending motorists over.

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Police chiefs today insisted the officers did not need to be visible as they did not go on to issue tickets.

They said it was a "routine operation" to educate drivers about speed limits near Broughton Primary School.

A spokesman: "This is a non-enforceable speed check. The intention was to identify drivers who were speeding in an area near to a school.

"It's important to get the message across and make sure that drivers modify their behaviour."

He said officers must meet strict criteria when handing out speeding tickets. They have to be clearly visible and properly trained to use the equipment.

But drivers' groups said they remained concerned and said concealed speed traps were not an effective deterrent.

They have called for clearly visible patrols or signs to persuade people to slow down.

Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, added: "It's a visible deterrent that stops people. If police were to walk half a mile down the road and put up a sign then we wouldn't object so much.

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"There is a limit to the number of cars they can stop in this way and other drivers will be unaware of what's going on."

Stuart Wilson, 32, an IT consultant who works on McDonald Road, said he was surprised to spot two officers hiding behind a large communal bin.

He said: "I think quite a lot of drivers were being caught. They were hiding behind bins then waving down the road to their colleagues.

"Normally I would expect them to be more visible. I understand why they're doing it, but it seems a bit devious."

Phil Gomm, head of communications at the RAC Foundation, said: "We are pleased Edinburgh police are at least using these stealth tactics to educate drivers rather than penalise them.

"Of course motorists have a duty to stick to the law. However, if officers wanted to get their message across to the widest audience, why did they not install temporary speed indicator devices to warn motorists they were exceeding the speed limit?"