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Chief Constable Baggott books motorist for speeding

By Deborah McAleese

Chief Constable Matt Baggott is always talking about the importance of personal policing.

But this week his actions spoke louder than words when he personally reprimanded a speeding motorist, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

While travelling back from a meeting in Newry, where he told the public he wants to make “personal policing a reality”, Mr Baggott did just that when he stopped the driver and gave him a ticking off.

The Chief Constable was travelling in an unmarked police car when the motorist passed him on the dual carriageway close to Banbridge on Thursday evening.

Concerned about how the motorist was driving, Mr Baggott and his colleagues pursued him and flagged him over onto the hard shoulder where the Chief Constable got out of his car and had a stern word with the driver.

He then called a PSNI crew to the scene where a roads patrol officer booked the motorist.

“I’m sure the driver got a bit of a shock when he saw the Chief Constable walking towards him. That’ll be a story for him to tell his mates,” one PSNI officer joked.

He added: “Anyone breaking the law should watch out — they might just get the top man booking them. This just proves to the public that the Chief Constable isn’t just sitting in an office, he is out and about in communities getting stuck into grassroots policing.”

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: “Like every other police officer, the Chief Constable has a duty to enforce the law, prevent and |detect crime.

“While returning from a public engagement meeting in Newry on Thursday evening, police attention was drawn to a vehicle travelling on the A1 road near Banbridge due to the manner in which it was being driven.

“The Chief Constable and his colleagues stopped the car and carried out initial inquiries prior to the arrival of local police officers who are currently carrying out further inquiries in relation to possible motoring offences.”

A short time before he stopped the motorist, Mr Baggott had told the public meeting in Newry that he wanted to have “real conversations” with communities about the reality of policing.

While the motorist may not have been too thrilled to have had such a personal conversation with the head of the PSNI in such circumstances, he can take some comfort from the fact that Mr Baggott has in the past booked himself for speeding.

When he was head of Leicestershire police he was caught speeding and had to give himself three penalty points.

“As the Chief Constable I had to write to myself and fine myself. I gave myself three points,” he told a public meeting in Ballymena last year.

Mr Baggott is not the first Northern Ireland Chief Constable to show his commitment to policing in the community.

In 2003 his predecessor Hugh Orde personally arrested a man suspected of being involved in a car crime.

Mr Orde and one of his most senior deputies, Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland, carried out the arrest while inspecting officers on duty in Belfast during Operation Viper, a major crackdown on motor crime.

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