The police and the public

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Sir,

I have for many years read Motor Sport and viewed the many controversial topics such as the VW saga and “breakdown of good relations between the police and the motoring public” with a slightly unconcerned and perhaps jaundiced eye. A recent experience with the powers-that-be regarding a motoring offence has made me believe that the opinions of Motor Sport are based on fact and not on the keen edge of an editorial axe. The facts leading up to my own disillusionment regarding the Metropolitan Police Force are as follows: Late one evening in February I was stopped by a motorcycle patrol on the North Circular Road, a few yards from a cafe which is the venue of the 100-m.p.h. motorcyclists. I was warned I had exceeded the speed limit by 10 m.p.h. The officer concerned stated that he could not say if proceedings would be taken, as a decision would be dependent on his superior; also that up to three months might elapse before I was informed either way. The following day the speedometer of my vehicle was checked, and error found due to the ingress of water. The manufacturers were duly approached, and extensive weather-proofing carried out. This included fitting a sealing ring, missing from new, and the incorporation of an additional cover for the instrument head. A plea of guilty was submitted to the Court of Petty Sessions, together with bills showing that the necessary work had been carried out free of charge. A request was made for the return of the bills; also of photographs depicting the work carried out.

The result of this effort to co-operate was a fine of £4 and the usual endorsement of licence. The bills and photographs were not returned, and no account was taken of the previous 15 years’ and 350,000 miles of trouble-free motoring. A little crestfallen at the outcome of unwittingly exceeding the speed limit, I was near to accepting the situation when I read in a local paper that a 19-year-old motorcycle mechanic had crossed a traffic signal whilst it was red and obstructed the apprehending constable in the execution of his duty. A fine of £1 was imposed, both offences being proved (a charge of assault was dismissed). It transpired that the defendant’s father had been in the local police force for 25 years and that his two brothers had also served in the force.

Prior to my unfortunate clash with the law I had considered the police to be an understanding body which, if at all possible, would endeavour to be helpful. There is now, however, another motorist who has learnt that Britain’s police are not marvellous, who realises why witnesses are diffident to come forward, and understands “that feeling” between the police and the public.

I am, Yours, etc.,

“Disillusioned motorist.” [Name and address supplied. – Ed.]