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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 19:43 GMT 20:43 UK
Child car belt fine dropped
Jacquiline Buchanan was given a 30 fine
Jacquiline Buchanan was given a 30 fine
Confusion over the law on child car seats in taxis has led to a fine being imposed on a County Down woman and then withdrawn.

Earlier this week, Jacquiline Buchanan was given a 30 fine for allowing her 22-month-old son Corey to travel unsecured in the back seat of a taxi, sitting between her and his granny.

However, on Friday a police spokesman admitted officers were wrong to fine Mrs Buchanan, from Bangor.

They said drivers, not passengers, were liable for the safety of people in their vehicles.

Jacquiline Buchanan said the law was not clear.

"I didn't think he needed to wear it in the taxi," she said.

A number of fixed penalty notices were issued during a road safety operation in the Bangor area this week, relating to seat belt offences
PSNI

"I am willing to abide by the law, but it is so obscure that I'm sure many families are going to fall into the same trap.

"The police need to clarify their position on this."

The police said the fine was issued in error and they were withdrawing it.

A spokeswoman said the onus was on the taxi driver to ensure passengers - both adults and children - were carried safely.

"A number of fixed penalty notices were issued during a road safety operation in the Bangor area this week, relating to seat belt offences," said the spokeswoman.

"It has subsequently transpired that one of the notices was issued in error.

"This will now be withdrawn and police officers from Bangor will be in contact with the lady concerned to apologise for any inconvenience caused."

'Very shocked'

David Young from the Department of the Environment said the law stated that if a child was in a taxi or a private car they had to be restrained.

"There are certain issues, when it becomes more complicated if the driver of a private car or taxi doesn't have a child seat that is suitable," he said.

"In that case, if there is none available it could well be that it is not safe to carry that child, but they are maybe not breaking the law if they are in the back car seat."
Corey Buchanan was unsecured in the back seat of a taxi
Corey Buchanan was unsecured in the back seat of a taxi

He added: "The driver is the person who is liable. But it is the parent's child and, if it was my child, I would have a little carrier that I could use at all times."

Taxi firm owner Ian Henderson said he was very shocked to hear about the fine.

"In 20 years in taxis, I have never heard of that before," he said.

"Normally, the PSNI would either turn a blind eye or just mention to the parent that the child should be properly restrained and if you are not, you are actually breaking the law."




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Yvette Shapiro:
"The police said the fine was issued in error and they were withdrawing it"



SEE ALSO:
School break safety scheme starts
15 Jul 04  |  England
Car seat experts to help parents
23 Jun 04  |  Oxfordshire
'Use car seats up to age of 11'
15 Apr 04  |  Politics


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