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Parking Nazis

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Friday 31 October 2003 5.15pm
Sorry R - I completely, 100% categorically disagree with you. I was there at 3:30 in the afternoon, I'm a freelance writer / analyst, don't do drugs. My friend was there - she's a TV news presenter - I expect she probably does as many as everyone else as is typically projected in the world of media, but that's besides the point. The old lady they should have collared because the dog sat down in front of her they didn't do anything about as they already decided that she couldn't be a dealer because she looked to sweet and nice. And I could see the disappointment on their faces that all the rough sorts didn't prompt a reaction from the drugs mutt.

And as I said, in an hour, the old granny was the only person the dog sat down in front of. That was an overseeing officer, two dog handlers, and the police van parked 200 metres down the road to do the follow-up searches. I am sure you've got a better insight into these things than me given that your partner is in the force, but I'm struggling to see how that was the best use of police time.

As for feeling protected and safe - in a word "no" - not if liberty is the price and increased activiy like this is the logical conclusion. We live in a society where people try to make us believe that we can have life without even the faintest element of danger or risk. We see it on the way people get worked up about derailments on the tube or railways, for example, despite the statistics that your more likely to win the jackpot on the national lottery, etc. The fact is you can't eliminate risk, and secondly, why would you want to - it makes life more exciting and fun.

and where do you draw the line on exploitation? I think I know what you'll argue about drugs - you can't be a recreational drug user without sharing the pain of the people who've been burgled, the children exploited in prostitution and the peasants in Latin America intimidated to get the crop which produced the drugs your consuming at leisure. I concede all that is true, so what do you do - either legalise it and tax it, or just accept its going to happen and don't waste police time on it.

What I think's interesting about this whole thing is the gradualism of it all - most of us probably don't even notice how many more restrictions are placed on our behaviour vis-a-vis 15 years ago. It would be great if we could put "markers" in time to make direct comparisons. I imagine in 15 years time, when e-mail snooping is increasingly prevalent, we are all carrying ID cards, etc with more CCTV, we might look back on this exchange of opinions and laugh that we even bohered to discuss the intrusiveness of stop-and-search.
Friday 31 October 2003 5.27pm
I work in Guildford - have seen the offending dogs on several occasions - I didn't know they couldn't legally pick you up; assumed they could in fact as I saw a 'documentary' a good while back following various coppers about - one of the scenes was outside the pub next to Wandsworth Common on a balmy night. Loads of people sat outside having a very social drink - the coppers sent their cutesy little spaniel down and it wandered around before sitting in front of a chap. He promptly fussed the dog (wasn't it cute) - the coppers then 'interviewed' him, emptied pockets etc. and arrested him.

It's too much, id cards will be next and where does it stop - they can already tag animals electonically (under the skin implants) - will we see all our grandchildren tagged at birth?

Well it's not beyond the realms unless we stop the encroachment on civil liberties under the name of counter terrorism etc.
Friday 31 October 2003 5.46pm
Hey JR hartley, don't yell at me - I'm just an innocent heckler!
It wasn't you in particular, I just thought the whole thread had become somewhat unreal. It happens I agree with lots of your points - and I'm also sorry that I am a bit behind, it seems to have moved on from Matthews housemate to stop and search in Guildford. It moves quick when you're trying to keep up with real work.

However, I do want get this in, just to jolly it along you understand.

I agree that the rules are the rules and every one should abide by them. Further up this thread it seems to say we should all obey them absolutely and without any deviation regardless, a view endorsed by lots of people who indulged in the usual car driver bashing. However, I seem to remember a short time ago that there was a thread about bike riders - one memorable statement declaring that it was OK to ride through red lights as long as no one was actually crossing... I also seem to remember that some of our sticklers for the rules above thought that was OK...but then I'm getting on a bit, so my memory is probably failing.
Friday 31 October 2003 7.47pm
That was me Tom (riding through red lights in order to turn left). I knew it would invite comment, but I was asking whether it would be a good idea to change the law so that cyclists could legally turn left at red lights if there was no one coming. Pushbikes (not any sort of motorised transport) are so small and nippy over the first few yards that they could easily do this without inconveniencing other cars or pedestrians)

If they were doing this and someone was coming the other way, and they got into an accident, then the fault would clearly be with the cyclist who had chosen to take the risk.

The idea is not original - in the US (certainly in California - I don;t know about elsewhere) this is legal for cars (which resulted in me nearly getting a few back end shunts in a car until I got used to it). I don't think it would work for cars on our often-gridlocked roads, and I think motorbikes are probably too intimidating for other cars/pedestrians to let them do it as well), but given that pushbikes seem to ignore red lights generally, I'd see this move (together with a strong penalty for crossing red lights in any other circumstance) as strengthening legislation rather than weakening it.

In fact, I think (as a sometime cyclist) that it wouldn't be a bad idea for all cyclists to have compulsory 3rd party insurance. With the rise in cycling (which we need to keep the most number of people moving on our crowded roads), we now have a significant group who are mingling with the other traffic (and could cause damage to themselves and the other traffic) who hav no insurance at all. I remember being shocked years ago when an old girlfriend had her much-loved car (that she'd worked and saved for ages to buy) written off because someone's dog ran out in the road. She swerved so as not to kill the dog, and the only place left to go was into the central reservation. The dog had no insurance, and she was only covered 3PFT, so that was the end of that car.

Just to stress, I'm not in favour of breaking the law, but I do think there are some laws that maybe need to change to keep up with the times.

Also, (re your point about being sticklers for rules) while we obviously will all break laws from time to time, I'm only saying that when we do, and get caught, then it's fruitless to complain.

I do nip in the odd bus lane for a few yards on my scooter to get round stationary traffic (and I also take my scoot at walking pace through the barrier on Trinity St - after waiting for any cyclists to go through). That's against the law.

But if (or when, in the case of the bus lanes, as I had a 50 quid ticket recently and can remember from the date and location that it was a time when I can only have been in the lane for max 20 yds) I get caught, then it's no use me complaining because (as someone pointed out above, and bringing us back neatly to the parking nazi theme of the original thread) I broke that law with full knowledge and wilfully. I could read the signs and I knew it was wrong, so if I get caught then there's no use complaining and the only option is to pay up and put it to experience.

I don't think there's any inconsistency in what I'm saying, and I'm not advocating an Orwellian society. I just think there are justified complaints (like the stop and search msgs above), and unjustified ones.
Friday 31 October 2003 7.51pm
Oh, Tom, I'm sure you'll realise, but the ...housemartin id is just my id when I'm at home (because I've forgotten the password I used to get on the forum at work)

Ivanhoe Martin
Saturday 1 November 2003 7.06am
Dear R

there certainly seems to be much of a generalisation with regards to the police. I have no doubt that there are plenty in the whole force that deserve their paypackets at the end of the month,as there are probably one or two traffic wardens who also fall into the same category. And it sounds like your husband is one of them !!!

hurrah !

in all seriousness, I have several friends of mine who are officers, and I even went through a stage in my life where I thought my working career would be most satisfying, were it in the police force. I had then, as I do now, much respect for law and order.

But how can I have much belief that we're getting value for money, when all I see, and I agree it's but a small and cloudy picture, is the police spending vast resources in trapping the public with small and petty fines for trivial traffic offenses, and when I have bicycles stolen or call to report a burglary in motion, they are completely uninterested. I've not seen a bobby on the beat in ages... that's where I'd like the resources to go, but it has no direct revenue stream for their paymasters.

Recently, I witnessed a "Road-tax evasion operation" in Camden. I counted no less then 25 uniformed officers stopping cars on the road... ans then writing out fines for those that didn't. I asked if they managed to catch any stolen vehicles this way yet, and the answer was that they hadn't, and that it wasn't really what the operation was about. I can't but feel a little unhappy about this kind of thing.

As for my flashing and speeding... The officer agreed that maybe it was a little dangerous to pull out 2 meters in front of me, but did it to uphold the law. He agreed my point on the overtaking (as he was doing 65 mph) as stated in the highway code. We had nothing further to say to one another.

Oh, and I clearly have no idea about these things. But something tells me that the real career criminals out there, tend not to be around much at 3:30 on a tuesday afternoon. The serious bunch are either still resting for their next big deal, or are staying locally within it's small community... They so rarely travel about. The ones that do, I think are a little higher up in the chain, and less likely to use use or carry the stuff in any case.

Monday 3 November 2003 11.14am
Wow - I thought they'd be some strong opinions, but I didn't realise I start such a lengthy discussion! I just want to say thanks to everyone for their input.

To address a few points, my housemate is happy to pay the initial parking ticket, he fully acknowledges his oversight in not noticing the permit had expired, his (and my!) issue is that it was unreasonable for him to be punished by way of +300 fines, no car for a few days, inconvenience of having to recover it, the stress etc etc. He's happy to stump up the 40 (or whatever it is)for the parking ticket.....

The issue with abandoned cars is also a bit of a dichotomy - because we live in an crappy area surrounded by council buildings there are loads of abandoned cars (some of which are clearly trashed, but others that certainly appear still driveable and worth more than the few hundred quid it costs to recover a towed car)

They are covered with tickets, then 'Police aware' stickers, and are finally towed away after what seems to be about 2 weeks. My housemate does have a quite a nice, newish car - so it certainly looks like they target people who are going to stump up the cash.
Monday 3 November 2003 7.32pm
Very good observation. I used to live in Fulham, and the same thing would happen there - VWs, BMWs, and other German automotive technology would generally be put on a lorry after 5 minutes excess (my old car was once taken to the pound at 9pm on a weekday night after the council changed the limit on residents permit parking until 10pm). But old wrecks just sit there. I remember clearly an incident when an old wreck near me was sitting there for 3 months, taking up a space, ugly, untaxed, encouraging people to take bits off it. I called H&F council more times than I care to remember to get it towed, but to no avail. It took someone to come along one evening and kick 7 shades of .... out of what was left of it, littering the place with smashed glass, etc, before the council finally relented and collected it.
Tuesday 4 November 2003 6.16am
Top end of Union Street - near Blackfriars Road, a car was there for so long I seriously thought about sending it a birthday card - it was an older car...and it was an obstruction. took months to move.
the moral is, buy a wreck! preferably one with foreign number plates...
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