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Parking Nazis

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Thursday 30 October 2003 7.45pm
oh dear, I think reality's on the blink again...
Thursday 30 October 2003 8.02pm
Its probably the result of receiving a bus lane fine.

Common problem.
Thursday 30 October 2003 9.44pm
What's on the blink about that Tom? Just because my views don't necessarily square with yours doesn't automatically mean I have a distorted view of reality - I just have a different one. In my opinion a broader one, and a truer one, but I wouldn't insult you by calling your opinions absurd.

I'm not sure if you are suggesting that wardens don't receive commissions [I thought this was common knowledge now after the Evening Standard article about the 14K Nova on offer this year]?

Or are you rather arguing that the whole extension of parking fines to other areas is nonsense? In which case, how do you respond to the event in the Midlands I think it was the other week - the prising open of the bonnet on a person's parked car, on private property to check if he had any washer fluid in his vehicle, and upon finding that the reservoir was empty, then fined him 3 points on his license and 40 as reported last week? Or are the papers just making this stuff up?

Its no skin off my nose - I haven't received a ticket since the last time I was in Holloway (3 minutes past 4pm on a red route parking spot again as I collected something from a furniture shop on a Saturday afternoon - naughty me, the havoc I must have wreaked) [as I said, it seems the cops over here have slightly more important things to worry about] and I don't intend to go back to London in a hurry - parking wardens will carry on their vital work, people will leave their cars at home and businesses in the centre (esp retail) will be choked. Its already happening, obviously largely due to the congestion charge.

All I'm saying is in my opinion, I think the whole thing is getting a bit out of hand and verging on the infringment of civil liberties. If that doesn't bother you, that's your choice, but I don't think its fair to criticise me as I am worried about the augmentation of snooping.

Another example - and obviously if you choose to believe I am a paranoid dellusional, your choice, but here it is: last summer, I turned up at Guildford railway station and a police dog sniffed me, unprompted, with its handler. Nothing happened, but as I was waiting at the station for someone anyway, I went up to the officer in charge and asked him what was going on. He explained to me they were drug-testing passengers coming off the trains.... apparently if the dog sits down in front of you, it can detect traces of banned substances. I pointed out that under the law as it stands at the moment, they couldn't do that, and he conceded I was correct. But he told me that what they do is if a dog sits down in front of you, they let you go ahead, but radio to another unit that stops you 200 metres down the road and gets you for something else [acting suspiciously, etc] and asks you to empty your pockets in front of them, and they get you that way.

Anyway. there you have it. I suppose everyone is going to choose the reality that helps them sleep best at night, and so its easier for people to put this down along the ranks of conspiracy theories and other such rabble-rousing. I understand that the police have tried the same tactics in pubs in Staffordshire, where understandably it hasn't been popular with patrons, and have told landlords not to complain if they want to retain their licenses.

I know a lot of people will, like say, like the policeman in question I spoke "Good - these people should be off the streets, and not posing a threat to our children. If you've not done anything wrong, you've got nothing to be afraid of". Fair enough, I'm no advocate of drugs, but I do worry where this is going to stop if they are already doing things like this.

The Bible isn't something I've overly familiary with, but as I believe the dusty book says, let him without blame throw the first stone. Strikes me there must be quite a few righteous people here who obviously are pretty confident that there are no things in their lives that they are going to get pulled up on, things which have no adverse affect on the rest of society. I'd have thought that should be something to be a little bit proactive about, no?

The funny thing about all drug-testing nonsense at Guildford was that, as I was watching, the cops systematically went up to people in cruddy clothes with long hair, straggly dogs on strings, traveller types, etc. to try to check them out, but with no reaction from the dog. The only time that the dog did sit down in the hour I was waiting at the station was in front of a 60+ woman, and the police didn't search her as they said it would have to be a mistake....

So, for any dealers out there - get yourself a zimmer frame - they'll never suspect you.
Friday 31 October 2003 9.22am

I don't think anyone's against defending civil liberties. It's just that civil liberties don't extend to being able to park where and when I like. I'm quite comfortable with that.

I'd hazard a guess that, for most people, there's a lot of difference between unjustified stop and search and getting a parking ticket.

...if you press it, they will come.
Friday 31 October 2003 2.21pm
Fair enough. I suppose I just harbour concern that the mind-set behind financially incentivised traffic wardens is potentially a similar one to those doing random stop-and-searches (as in you're going to end up with a fine, not time inside if found in possession). I think that was the link I was looking for, though I concede I didn't express it very well. Its the "mission creep" that bothers me.
Friday 31 October 2003 3.48pm
Yes, that is a concern (it certainly worries me).

It's really odd about the police story you tell though. Obviously, you're telling a true story, but you just can't believe that any force thinks it's worth it (even if they were able to keep the fines. Wouldn't it take forever to raise enough to pay for an extra man on the beat, or whatever it is they'd be trying to get money for?

One of the problems is that we're in danger of losing all respect for the people who should be there to protect and serve (I mean coppers - no one will ever sympathise with traffic wardens of course)

...if you press it, they will come.
Friday 31 October 2003 4.17pm
I am dangerously close to having no respect whatsoever...

I got stopped driving back from Dover last week, because I flashed a police-car who pulledd out in front of me, as I was overtaking him... The police inspector driving the car asked me why I flashed him, and why I was going so fast (75mph on the motorway), and why was I so stupid to flash him... My answer was, that I was on an overtaking manouver, which according to the highway-code, must be done as quickly and safely as possible. The flashing was done, because he drove like a lunatic. We argued for a while and he then finally let me go.
It's silly little things that really get my back up. But it's nothing compared to having our fine law and order enforcements used for nothing but picking people up on small and quite frankly, trivial offenses whilst they do NOT even bother about more serious crimes such as burglaries and thefts.
I do believe that the courts, don't make it easy for these hard-working boys in blue... but is it really necesary to make reasonable citizens feel that they are the criminals in this society ?

Friday 31 October 2003 4.24pm
sorry jai, but i think your comments are completly unjustified regarding the police. Firstly, they DO bother with more serious crime. My partner is a police officer in Camden and he spends most of his time dealing with 'serious' crime. And doing 75 mph IS breaking the law at the end of the day. Flashing a police car is a sign of disrespect as well. I bet if you were a police officer and the roles were reversed you would do exactly the same. the point is that, whilst I don't doubt that you are a reasonable citizen, the police are just doing their job. for all they know you could have been anyone.

If we don't give them the respect they deserve then why the hell should they respect us?
Friday 31 October 2003 4.48pm
I fear its a bit of a vicious circle and its probably far too late now to start debating about who lost respect for whom first.

I think the random stop and search thing is very odd and very worrying, and I completely concur with Ivanhoe that it is never going to pay for itself financiallly, unless it really goes mainstream, in which case I would imagine there would be a massive public backlash. I can understand why Staffordshire landlords are worried about the likely atmosphere in their pubs if this really starts to take off - imagine going for a drink with your mates to have to endure a police collie sniffing away at your crotch or some copper swabbing your pint glass between drinks?

Incidentally, they do it at US airports now - the tests are purportedly for C4 / Semtex, but they swab your hands and bags and airports, but the chemicals they use will also show traces of class A drugs. Not that I am advocating drugs smuggling - I don't partake at all, but again, its another example where they take "evidence" under one pretext (counter-terrorism, no complaints) and use it for another purpose.

The worrying thing for me was that the officer I spoke with at Guildford really believed he was doing some good in protecting "the little ones" of Guildford [he had two of his own, so he clearly was convinced he was serving a useful purpose] - when in reality, the type of people they are likely to catch in such an exercise at 3:30pm on a Tuesday afternoon [as I think we all agree] would be the recreational users who have no intention of dealing or committing crimes to pay for their occassional habit.

So I entirely agree with Ivanhoe that things like this contribute towards the erosion of trust and suspicion of police motives. Clearly, the bobby on the beat has no say in what he has to do and its not fair that they have to suffer the consequences - but it does make you ask serious questions of those higher up who are making the decisions of where to allocate scarce resources.
Friday 31 October 2003 4.58pm
sorry.... the type of people they catch at 3.30pm on a tuesday afternoon are those who are serious drug users who commit crimes to fund their habit. those who use drugs for recreation are generally at work at that time!

as for civil liberties - don't you want to feel protected and safe? A lot of crimes committed are to do with drugs. i'm afraid its a reality.

I'm not defending random stop and search, but if you've done nothing wrong and have got nothing to hide then whats the problem?
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