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Reliance rebuked for handcuffing speeding accused

3 March 2006

A Forfar sheriff has criticised the actions of court security staff after a man accused of speeding was led into the court in handcuffs.

Sheriff Kevin Veal ordered a Reliance security guard to uncuff immediately 32-year-old Andrew Douglas, who had also been jailed for three hours prior to his appearance in court.

Sheriff Veal said the man was clearly not a danger to the public and what had happened to him could be a serious breach of his human rights.

Douglas had handed himself into the police yesterday morning after a mix-up over court papers resulted in him being summoned to court. He was then transferred to a holding cell in the courthouse for more than three hours.

He pled guilty to driving at 108.8mph on the A90 Aberdeen to Dundee road at Moathill on 12 November last year. The letter summoning him to court had been sent to his Forfar address where he spends the occasional weekend so he had not received it.

He was fined £600 and had his driving licence endorsed with six penalty points.

Reliance's operations director Jim Greenoak said it was normal practice for the firm to escort prisoners into court in handcuffs for any alleged offence. However, North Tayside MSP John Swinney and Tayside MSP Andrew Arbuckle both said the actions the private security firm had taken were "over the top". Mr Douglas however said it was his fault and he was quite lucky.