General duties police officers are expected to hand out just 10 traffic fines per month, leaked documents show.
A letter written by a senior constable of Tuggeranong Police Station in December 2008 and obtained by The Canberra Times strongly suggests that general duties police are supposed to issue roughly 10 fines a month.
The letter was written by the senior constable to warn his superiors that a member of his team, probationary constable Richard Curie, was issuing too many speeding fines.
The letter stated that Mr Curie, who has since left ACT Policing and has been engaged in a long-running legal dispute with his former employer, was issuing ''at least 50 traffic infringement notices a month''.
The senior constable was concerned that Mr Curie was neglecting other policing duties, and warned him to limit the number of fines he issued to 20 per month.
The letter then goes on to claim ''... it is expected that members issue roughly 10 traffic infringement notices per month, time and other priorities permitting.''
Speaking to The Canberra Times, Mr Curie said an unofficial quota for speeding fines existed within ACT Policing.
ACT Policing, however, denied the existence of such a quota, and said general duties police were not directed to reduce the number of fines they issued.
An ACT Policing spokeswoman said for probationary constables, such as Mr Curie, there was an expectation not to focus too heavily on traffic violations, as it would lead them to neglect other duties.
''In order for a probationary constable to meet the prerequisites of the Diploma in Public Safety, they are required to complete a workbook to demonstrate competency across all policing competencies, not just traffic,'' the spokeswoman said.
But Mr Curie described those claims as ''nonsense'' and said such a low number of traffic infringement notices could never have impacted on his other duties.
''On numerous occasions I was told not to write out, or to essentially stop writing out fines once I reached the unofficial quotas,'' he claimed.
NRMA director ACT and Southern NSW Alan Evans said he was surprised at the seemingly low number of fines that general duties officers were expected to issue.
''Surprised, because the general public would believe that it was the opposite, that police would set a higher number to get, rather than a lower number,'' Mr Evans said.
''I'm not sure that it's the best way to manage your workforce, and particularly as we know the best way to deter people from breaking the road rules is to have a visible police presence, and that to be reinforced by people taking action,'' he said.
Mr Curie also said he was worried the quota could force officers to turn a blind eye to traffic offences.
''My question would be, if you are to stop at this [quota] of 10, whether there's consideration that someone is neglecting their general duties ... do you simply turn a blind eye to people passing you at speed, or do you just not enforce these matters?''
Under ACT Policing internal guidelines on traffic enforcement, officers are advised that ''traffic enforcement quotas will not be set'', but officers should be aware that traffic enforcement was an ''essential ingredient'' in road safety.