What else in this past week? Oh, yes. Finally got a reply from the police in South Wales along with photographs of “my car” being caught on a speed trap. About 30 miles west of the car park it was sat in at the time the pictures were taken. By what looks like a speed-gun effort in a car parked behind a bridge, from what I can judge. There are no markings on the road, and the angle doesn’t indicate a mounted camera anyway.
Regardless – not me. Same numberplate, coincidentally. Same make of car, and model. Possibly the same colour. The numberplate itself, however, is a different design. The back of the car is also decorated – mine isn’t.
My issue with them this time (yes – an issue. With the speed camera police. Who’d have thought it) is the dating and time limit on the letter. I mail them about 6 weeks ago to say “it isn’t me. Prove it’s me”. Eventually, at their leisure, they get back to me with a letter saying “here are some pictures. According to the law, you’re guilty unless you can prove you’re not. You have 7 days from the date on this letter to send us your details or we’ll drop letters to the court and you’ll get the death sentence”. Well, almost. Apart from the death sentence bit.
The fun bit is the date on the letter – 16th of March. So I have to reply to them by… erm… today. The day I received the letter. Which has a reply address and a URL to a web page that’s under constructions. No telephone number.
You’d almost think they just wanted to prosecute me, give me a criminal record and take my cash. Surely not?
Instead, I dug out the original letter which does have a number on. Rather glad I kept that. Dial the number and you get a 5 minute recorded message which reels off the address twice, constantly telling you that you should mail them with any queries. Right up until the end when another number is read out just the once, very quickly and with a blip in the tape over one of the numbers so you have to guess at it.
So I call that number, to get another recorded message telling me that my call is important, their hours are 9-12 and 2-4 Mon-Fri, and that I’m in a queue of no more then 5 persons per operator. After a further 15 minutes (on my mobile), I finally spoke to a human who – to be fair – was very helpful.
Essentially, I just need to send them a photo of my car. They may or may not send a policeman over to check it out but she reckons it’s pretty likely the “charge” will be dropped and they’ll keep an eye out for the car with my plates on in Wales. Woo-hoo.
I’m still pissed off with the tone of every letter, though. Threatening. Time-limited. Automatic presumption of guilt. If a loans company sent letters like this out, they’d be all over Watchdog every week and hounded out of business. How in hell can we let our own police force, a body for which on the whole I have a great deal of respect, treat us like this? In any other area of the law you’re innocent until proven guilty. Have your car (or one that looks like it) caught on camera and you’re guilty until proven innocent.
I know there are human rights organisations complaining to the European Court to have this overturned and brought in line with all other UK (and European) laws, but why is this necessary? How did this ludicrous reversal in standard legal practice get through in the first place? Is there a possibility that the tens of millions of pounds generated by these cameras each year have something to do with it?
I’ll let you know how it pans out, but basically… Not Guilty, your honour.