Ok, I got a letter back from Gwent police today. Thay are informing me that “there will be no further action taken regarding this matter” of the speed trap photographing a car bearing similar (but visibly different) number plates to mine in November last year. How kind.
On my letter, I did mention to them how upset I was at being treated as a seemingly guilty party when I was doing my best to help prove it wasn’t me. Something that’s backwards as far as other UK and Eurpean law is considered anyway. In any other situation, you’re innocent until proven guilty. With traffic offenses, it’s the other way round. Basically, even if it wasn’t you, you’re guilty of not providing the information required for them to nab whoever it actually was.
In response to this, they’ve quoted the bit of the law that states that the keeper of the vehicle has to identify the driver, as does any other person if requested. They also mention (in bold) that the fine for failing to do this is £2000. They like to make the fines look nice and important, I’m assuming because you view the money as such an important thing as they themselves do. Greedy bastards.
The closing paragraph reads “I bring this to your attention as this course of action will not be considered on any future occasion.” Now, they either mean that they won’t bother trying to chase down the driver (unlikely, but it’s one interpretation of a typically badly-worded letter), or it means that the next time the guy with my number plate gets flashed they’ll blame me anyway despite the fact that it wasn’t me. More likely as they’re a bunch of greedy bastards who’s only interest is in making their numbers look nice.
It seems very much like a threat to me. Like the nightclub bouncer who wrongly assumes you did something, threatens to throw you out and is held back by a mate who explains things to him. He just has to lean over you, poke his finger in your face and say “Just watch it” even though you’ve done nothing wrong. They’re trying to look like they’re big, strong and have a hold over you. When in reality they’re making themselves look even more bumbling and incompetent.
As for the huge fine for failing to identify the driver – isn’t this just a fiscal version of beating a confession out of someone? Surely occasions arise where you genuinely don’t know who was driving at a particular moment?
Let’s raise a hypothetical, but perfectly feasible, situation. I’m in my car and I’m dropped off somewhere I can prove I was. For the sake of argument, a police station to help with their enquiries. Plenty of credible witnesses to say that I, the keeper of the vehicle, was in the police station when… *flash* it’s caught doing 50 in a 40 zone.
OK, there are two other people who could drive that car, say. Both were in the car that day. Both drove it at various points while I wasn’t there. Neither, genuinely, remembers a camera flashing. They drove the same road a couple of times, and on their granny’s graves couldn’t tell you who was driving when the camera caught them.
So who gets the points and the fine? Or the massive two grand fine? I get the letter and tell the police it wasn’t me and I can prove it. But I can’t say who it was. I can say it was one of two people and they’ll happily say it was one of them, but they genuinely can’t say which.
Do I get a fine for not identifying the driver? Do they each get the fine for not admitting it? Because that means one of them will be getting a huge punishment for committing a crime of which they are innocent, while the other will be getting a fine way above and beyond what they should receive for a minor traffic offense they didn’t realise they had committed. Failing that, do they just toss a coin and one of them takes the 3 penalty points and a £60 fine (plus the inherent jump in car insurance cost) for something there’s a 50% chance they didn’t do?
On the other hand, since when did “fair” come into the speeding laws since cameras were introduced? Dig them all up, and get proper police out there identifying the real dangerous drivers, not the ones a few miles over the limit. Get the tailgaters, the boy racers, the lane swappers, the ones with three kids in the back with no seatbelts, the 25mph-in-a-60-zone brigade (I was stuck behind one last week)…
Sorry to have gone on, but much as I’m relieved I’m not getting taken to court, I am monumentally pissed off at the attitude and bully-boy tactics they’ve used to try and get information out of me that I simply do not have.
Needless to say another letter will be on its way to them shortly. Just curious to see what they have to say.