A W HANLON (Letters, January 30) is surely right to question the practice and certainly the frequency of police racing their vehicles at speeds well over the legal limit.

As Peter Hitchens observes in his brilliant book on the decline of order and justice in England, The Abolition of Liberty, the British police car, once a sober and subdued affair with only a bell and a small illuminated sign to identify it, has become a highway patrol cruiser adorned with splendid coats of arms, slogans, reflective stripes, banks of multi-coloured strobe lights and sirens, which can be heard in the next county.

Many are now more spectacular than the relatively modest vehicles used by American suburban forces.

Newspaper reporters and elected representatives invited to go out on patrol with the police are almost invariably taken in such cars. Officers long for the excuse to switch on the lights and sirens and fly to the rescue at dangerously high speeds. Again, as Peter Hitchens points out, who can blame them, with such machinery to play with and such inspiration from the many police programmes they have seen on TV, from fictional dramas to the factual clips in Police...

Camera... Action?

Yet, as Mr Hanlon suggests, it is often the case that the crime they have gone to at such speed simply does not justify the effort or the danger to officers and public of driving at speed through built-up areas.

COUNCILLOR NEVILLE PENMAN, (Conservative), Totton.