MATTERS OF MOMENT, May 1962

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MATTERS OF MOMENT

MOTORISTS AND POLICE

The need for -amicable relations between the Pace and the motorist is becoming generally recognised. The Metropolitan Commissioner of Police has instructed his men not to take action against normally law-abiding drivers who go slightly over the limit of speed in a desire to keep the traffic flowing. In Essex the constabulary have been told to look for

dangerous driving rather than parking offences and providing motorists use common-sense they can usually park unmolested in Southend and district.

• Brigadier J. N. Cheney, Chief Constable of Buckinghamshire, has announced that during May and June his Officers, whether on foot, in cars or on motorcycles, will be engaged on a Courtesy Campaign involving all classes of road users, in order to prevent the committing of offences by road users, reduce accidents and bring about a better understanding between police and public.

All this is most laudable and a wise trend, which could do much to offset the overnight down-grading of speed limits on safe (and expensive) dual carriageways that seems to be Mr. Marples’ Easter gift to already harassed (and heavily-taxed) road users. It is all the more regrettable that goodwill, laboriously earned, is occasionally thrown away by the thoughtless or aggressive personalities of certain policemen. For instance, we were stopped recently in Surrey by a motorcycle policeman and accused of “driving in a manner dangerous . . .,” which was 70 m.p.h. in a 1962 discbraked saloon in daylight over open commonland and derestricted roads, with no other vehicles leading or pursuing us. This young policeman seemed quite certain speed in itself is highly dangerous and went on his way only partially convinced that, in the right place, it is perfectly legitimate. Another case was brought to our notice, and is outlined in the following correspondence : Sir,

In recent. years I have noticed Police Officers on several occasions making very genuine, and much appreciated, efforts to be fair yet firm with the public. think everyone will admit that on occasion the public must annoy the Police. and not help in fostering a spirit of mutual assistance. On the other hand, every so often one encounters examples of the Gestapo attitude on the part ot the Police, and I witnessed such an incident today. It was so flagrant that I feel compelled to write and express my views, particularly as it is so important, in view of the crime wave, that the Police should not act in a way calculated to alienate the public. At at.sproxtmately 9.5o a.m., I was driving along Barking Road in East Ham, approaching the crossing with High Street North and South, where there are traffic lights. They were at green, and a lorry was waiting to turn right from Barking Road into nigh Street South with its trafficator out. Behind it was a Police car, also with its trafficator out, waiting very obviously to turn right after the lorry. About 3o yards behind it was a motorcycle in the near-sick lane going straight on. I was following about 5o yards further back. As the motorcycle came up to the near-side of the Police car the car driver pulled out to the left o) the lorry still with right trafficator out ! ! ! He caused the motorcycle to swerve and had to pull his wheel to the right to avoid hitting hint. The motorcycle carried on across the crossing and the Police car followed. having pulled round the lorry, add with right-hand trafficator out. This did not go down for another 50 yards at least. About 550 yards further on the car drew level with the motorcycle and the passenger

waved it down. I wondered what would happen in view of the fact that the car was so obviously in the wrong, and so decided to stop. I walked back and found the Police driver talking in u very bullying manner to the motorcyclist. When I asked him if he was referring to the crossroads, he almost shouted at me—” No, not that, but about doing 40 m.p.h.” This was ludicrous since he could not possibly have checked the speed of the motorcycle in the distance (approximately 200 yards) and in any case as I was following them both I knew neither had exceeded 30 m.p.h. As it was obviousiy useless to argue with the. driver, and I was short of time, I contented myself with telling the plain-clothes man in the car why I had interfered and suggesting that he talked to his driver about it. I only hope that the motorcyclist was not charged either with speeding or nearly scraping a Police car. I have never before witnessed such appalling driving and subsequent behaviour by a Police Officer.

In my opinion, as a 20,000 miles per year driver, the Police Chiefs would do well to remove such bullies and dangerous drivers Irons the wheels of Police ears and put them on foot patrol to prevent lorry robberies and pay snatches, when their use of tough attitudes and talk might be of better service. Give such types a big black car with a bell and they become small-time tyrants. From letters in your correspondence columns I know your excellent magazine is read by numerous Police Officers. Let me say to them that I feel the Force carries out a difficult job in. generally, an efficient and courteous fashion. Why then are types such as I have described chosen as road patrol drivers, where

described chosen as road patrol drivers, where a diplomatic attitude is of such value in gaining the public’s trust and, more important, assistance fit outwitting lawbreakers ?

Epsom. D. B. Baucv.

We showed the aboved letter to the authorities, who replied …

Sir.

With reference to your letter of February z8th, addressed fo the chief Constable of Surrey, I am directed by the Commissioner to inform you that inquiries have been made into Mr. Bruce’s complaint. It appears that it was the intention of the driver of the Police car to turn right, hut he subsequently decided not to do so, and reset the indicator switch accord

ingly. Unfortunately, however, the indicator arm remained extended and the driver subsequently had to reset it by hand.

The motorcyt.list was advised as to the driving of his machine, as it appeared to the Police that he was not experienced in the handling of it (and this proved to be the case), but he was not warned or reported for any offence.

Mr. Bruce has.heen seen by a Senior Officer and has stated that Ile does not wish to receive any further communication on the subject.

New Scotland Yard, R. M. SEARMAN. I .on don, S.W. i. for Assistant Commissioner. lin spite of the last paragraphs of the Assistant Commissioner’s letter, we con tacted our correspondent, who states that he has no objection to his letter appearing, as his only desire was to see that a fellow road-user did not suffer any injustice. We have made the mann before that motorists must assist one another when incidents arise in which they are not the guilty party and in this case fair play has resulted in a happy ending all round and amicability between all parties. Which is good.-110.1

Let us hope that those responsible for training our Mobile Police will correct any idea that motor vehicles are safe only when they are standing still and that never will law-abiding British citizens (with whom we include motorists) tolerate for one moment ” Gestapo ” acts savouring of Television thrillers or a Police State. London, Essex and Bucks have set a lead towards better understanding between Police and motorists that should be widely followed.

ALLARD DOES FASTEST BRITISH s.s. 1-MILE

Congratulations to intrepid Sydney Allard and his mechanics for fastest standing-start j-mile ever recorded in Britain. Allard clocked 10.48 see, over this distance in his Supercharged 4.7-litre Chrysler-engined Allard slingshot at the W.. Essex C.C. Sprint Meeting at Debden on April 15th, timed by beam apparatus under the auspices of the National Sprint Association. The run was all the more meritorious_because Allard was using only one gear and had to make cautious startS, without spinning the Slicks, and because a gusty wind was blowing across the runway, causing the slingshot to snake unpleasantly. In all, Allard Maje three runs, all of them without trOuble, releasing his parachutes on the third one. Second fastest l-mile time was Made by George Brown on the big Vincent ” Nero ” in a courageous 11.49 see„ the motorcycle rider:, who were giving a demonstration, having to lean against the wind. ‘Pony Marsh’s -B.R.M. sprint chr was third fastest. in 11.92 see. The event Proper was won by Marsh, who clocked 18,33 sec. over the s.s.

COOPER-MINI TEAMS

In addition to their Formula One activities, the Cooper Car Company Ltd. intend to race two teams of Mini-Coopers during the coming season. One team will compete in the U.K. and the other on the Continent.

The ears will be transported on miniature trailers towed by Mini vans. The complete units are finished in traditional British racing green with the familiar white stripes over the bonnets which distinguish all Cooper ” works ” cars. The team drivers will consist of Messrs. Blydenstein, Whitmore, Maggs and Love. [Surely the Cooper Car Co. Ltd. does not regard the CooperMini as so unreliable that trailers are essential to get them to race meetings ? I am all in favour of saloon-car races between the ” hottest ” possible closed cars but such cars should surely be driven to the races in which they appear before the public ?–lit).]

FORTHCOMING ATTRACTION

The B.R.D.C. International Trophy Race Day al Silverstone on May t2th promises to be more than usually interesting. Apart from the Formula One race, Which has attracted nearly all the expected drivers and cars, including Ginther, Graham Hill, Marsh and LeWis in 1962 V8 B.R.M.s and Ashmore’s Cooper also with this year’s V8 B.R.M. engine to ensure plenty of the right sound, and, we hope, a couple or Ferraris, an exceedingly welcome demonstration is to take Mace-Moss is 10 COM’ a number of laps ill a 1939 3-litre G.P. Mercedes-Benz. brought by Daimler-Benz from the Stuttgart Museum.

The Saloon Car Race will he enlivened by three of the new Ford -Ziadiacs, driven by Moss, Ireland and Uren, and four Vauxhall VX 4190S.

Tickets should be obtained now, troth the Biz-D.C. Booking Office, -Silverstone Circuit, Towcester, Northants.