POLICE say an officer who issued a fixed penalty notice to young farmers on a charity 'dung run' at the weekend might have been able to deal with the incident 'more appropriately'.
The group from Liskeard Young Farmers were passing through Pensilva on Sunday, having manually loaded 500 bags full of dung onto trailers pulled by tractors or trucks, for sale to local gardeners in aid of the cancer ward at Derriford Hospital.
It is an annual charity event with Derriford's Birch ward chosen as this year's recipient, as the young farmers' friend Tegan Richards had suffered from cancer.
As the five-mile-an-hour convoy passed through the village, one of the young farmers was stopped by a police constable who advised him that he had earned three points on his licence and a £60 fine.
'Apparently, the reason for this was that the two people sitting in the trailer with the dung were in a dangerous position and could have been flung out of the trailer should the tractor have had to make an emergency stop,' said the mother of one of the youngsters involved.
'The trailer sides were four feet high and the said persons both aged over 18. If such an emergency had occurred they would probably have been flung no further than into the dung face down.'
The mum, who wants to remain anonymous, agreed that while the law must be upheld at all times, the officer's 'heavy handed' approach to a charity event really upset the young farmers and their parents. She added: 'The young driver of the tractor who gave up a day's work for charitable purposes now has three points on his licence and a £60 fine.
'We have since heard that a neighbouring young farmers' club was stopped for a similar reason by the police, but issued with a warning.'
'It seems such a shame that these young people, whose dung sale has raised nearly £1,000 for the Birch cancer ward in Derriford Hospital, had their day soured by a police constable who could himself have been more charitable and resisted using the full force of the law.'
Police this week responded to the criticism, saying carrying people in a trailer was inherently dangerous.
'There is no restraint to prevent being thrown about and there are numerous hard metal edges which, in the event of a collision or mishap, can cause serious injury.
'Hundreds of farming accidents happen every year where people are killed and seriously injured, so this issue should not be taken lightly.
'It is an offence to allow a trailer to be used in circumstances where there is a danger of injury to any person, under Sec 40(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
'The circumstances here clearly fit this offence, so the officer who issued the ticket has acted correctly as far as the law goes.'
But the spokesman added that every police officer has discretion, the ability to assess a particular situation and decide whether or not to take enforcement action.
'Perhaps in this case that would have been more appropriate,' he said.
'For the future, the young farmers may have to consider a slight change of arrangements simply because the tractor driver risks being prosecuted for this offence every time this occurs.
'Perhaps a sensible solution would be for all those who have traditionally ridden on the trailer to follow instead in a car, so everyone can travel in safety.'