Get out of ‘jail’ card

In the Nottingham Post on Saturday was a story which I couldn’t pass on. It is the story of an everyday Police Officer (well a PCSO) who parked their van to respond to an ‘enquiry’ but then went shopping.


This was all fine except that the Police van was left on double yellow lines…

I quote the Police’s response from the Post,

“A police vehicle, being used by the local Safer Neighbourhood Team, was legitimately parked on double yellow lines while two Police Community Support Officers made inquiries in relation to a missing person. The vehicle was not causing any obstruction, however, after completing their inquiries the officers briefly attended a nearby shop to purchase some items before returning to the van. This was a momentary lapse of judgement for which the officers have received advice.”

It seems to me that there are two alternatives here.

Firstly the Officers are fined just like you and I would be. Its £70 – reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days.

Alternatively, we are all permitted a little indiscretion from time to time – making sure we don’t cause an obstruction, having a momentary lapse of judgement (something I am sure won’t be lost on our traffic wardens) and then we accept ‘advice’ (like a slap on the legs).

I favour the first option as I think the probability of us getting away with the second one are slim…

Insurers – worse than Bankers?

I think so. I have blogged here about the fun and games you can encounter when trying to get car insurance in the UK. You are treated to an Industry which wants your cash (they call it a premium) and then don’t want to pay out when you need to claim. And if you do – they ramp your premium up. Some people don’t bother – we pay for them too!

The Insurers are quite scientific when it comes to pricing risk. The riskier you are the more you pay.

At the weekend Five Live ran an investigation into the latest little trick – employed by Admiral.

The Police can now offer you a Speed Awareness Course if they catch you speeding – it costs you – but you don’t get points on your Licence. And they have been suggesting that it doesn’t affect your Insurance. It seems that Admiral didn’t like this and have been loading premiums for drivers who have done the Speed Awareness Courses!

Their reasoning?

“Our claims statistics show that drivers who have committed a speeding offence could be a higher risk than drivers who do not commit speeding offences. This means that people attending a speed awareness course are more likely to make a claim and we price these risks accordingly”.

Their is a fundamental problem with this reasoning Admiral – “drivers who have committed a speeding offence” is pretty much all of us. It’s just that some people are unlucky and get caught. This has nothing to do with risk. This is luck. Or bad luck.

The Association Of Chief Police Officers is unimpressed, Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, “I think therefore it is unfair that insurance companies are loading premiums. It’s not appropriate.”

Since when was Insurance fair?

Hopefully Government will intervene here and slap them for this.

There was a time when Estate Agents (of which I am not) were the subject of hate mail. Latterly Bankers have taken that mantle – but surely this is the Insurers time?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Admiral Insurance, , Insurance, , premiums, Speed Awareness Course, speeding, unfair

The Police know I’m drinking coffee?

It seems that my dirty habit has been found out. Or rather is being monitored.

My day is not too good if I can’t get some caffeine on board. I don’t make a secret of it. It used to go to Starbucks round the corner but it’s now Costa at the Castle Marina Retail Park.

But I noticed last week that I’m being followed. The Police are taking my number plate details every time I go to Costa? I don’t quite know why! There’s no explanation – just a warning sign – I guess many people don’t know what ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) actually is? It’s the technology they have in Police cars for cracking down on people who avoid Insurance… They know all of your details in an instant from a computer recognising your number plate. I’m happy for them to catch people without insurance.

I do think that the proliferation of CCFTV cameras is getting a little out of hand. At what point do we move from crime prevention to big brother knowing everything about our every move? I’m not doing anything wrong in going to Costa (other than filling my body with mind-enhancing drugs!). So why are my details being taken? Am I going to get a call to tell me that I have been three times in a day and they are ‘concerned’?

We are the most watched Country in the world. It is reckoned there is one camera for every 32 people!

What is really interesting about the camera / ANPR system in my picture is that the camera is on private land – this is not an adopted highway. So is it the Police collecting the data – or the owners? And what are they doing with the data? How long are they keeping it? Piecing together my filthy habit?

Are you feeling guilty yet?

Crime Doesn’t Pay?

At the weekend some unsavoury types tried to get in my house uninvited. They went to a lot of trouble, but failed to ‘fish’ their way in. They left the clues all over the garden – a chair, a bamboo cane, broom handle brush and all of my conservatory windows open.

The Police were great – as they were when we had some bikes stolen earlier in the year. The SOCO man unfortunately couldn’t get fingerprints – I was all for DNA test, but it seems that they only really do this when there’s a murder. Attempted break-in is some way from this apparently.

One of the things that we must get sorted out as a City is crime. Although the statistics can tell you anything you like, the reality is that we still have a crime issue. Most big Cities do.

The Police were quite candid. They usually know who the ‘usual suspects’ are. The problem is evidence. But more than this, the real problem is the ‘punishment’. Which, if meted out, is usually a ‘joke’. So the criminals know that if they get caught the Courts are not going to do much with them. A telling off or slap on the wrist is what they can expect.

Unfortunately many of the cases simply don’t get to Court – the costs of doing so are expensive and if there’s at the slightest hole in the evidence then the case will almost certainly fail. So, rather than take a case with lost so circumstantial evidence and ‘known’ bad boys, it’s waste of time. So the criminals just carry on – taking yours and my stuff (although they didn’t this time).

We surely have to get to a point where there is an effective deterrent. It needs to be short and sharp.

When I came in one night there was a reality TV show on about the Police. They had chased two bad lads across a field and trapped them in a copse. The Police helicopter found them with it’s heat seeking camera and a dog team were dispatched. Despite warnings the dogs were sent in and quickly retrieved the two – who were seen bleeding where the dog had bitten them. they were complaining bitterly about being mauled. The interesting comment was that the bite (which clearly hurt) was probably the worst punishment they would get!

A short sharp bite might make them think twice?

Sometimes you just have to admit you are wrong?

I have to say that the story hitting the front page of the Nottingham Post this week leaves me (almost) speechless. The story concerns a Sherwood landlord, Robert Kerr who had his house broken into by the Nottinghamshire Police. They kicked his front door down searching for a stolen iPhone.

The story unfolds to marvel at an app on the iPad which allows you to track your phone, send a message to it and even wipe it clean – rendering it useless. The GPS technology had pinpointed Mr Kerrs house – and so the Police entered ‘in good faith’. I don’t have any issue with this – if they catch a baddie then that’s all good for us.

But alas, there was no one there – nor was the stolen phone. But the Police did leave a broken door.

Although the Police sorted out some temporary repairs they are refusing to make good the damage – which is going to cost around £500. Of course there is a bit of legislation which gives them the rights. It says that if the action was proportionate and reasonable then no compensation is payable.

My take on this is that this is morally wrong. Technically this man isn’t seeking ‘compensation’ – he just wants the damage making good. Had the Police caught someone or found the phone I’m all for the proportionate and reasonableness too. But the fact is that they didn’t.

So a paper war has ensued. The Police Solicitor has written a letter and now the matter is being referred to the Police Complains Commission. How much is all that going to cost?

Come on Mr Chief Constable – hold your hand up. You got it wrong. This man has been wronged. Pay up and put it behind you. And restore a bit of faith – hiding behind a bit of legislation is neither big not clever.

Photography and the law

You might remember that back in September I blogged about an incident my son had endured when he was questioned by a Policeman for taking photographs in a public place. You can read about it here. As far as I can tell his ‘terrorist’ activities have stayed pretty much under the radar since that time.

Filming you filming us...

Last week the Home Office and BSIA, the body for personnel guarding, crowd management, close protection and all other security staff issued some guidelines about, “Photography and Hostile Reconnaissance”. Sounds ominous!

But this is actually quite helpful and if you are like me then looking through this guide is quite helpful. It says, amongst other things, “If an individual is in a public place photographing or filming a private building, security guards have no right to prevent the individual from taking photographs.” and, “Security guards cannot delete images or seize cameras, nor can they obstruct individuals from taking photographs.” You can read the guidelines here.

We seem to have arrived at a place in society where we are so ultra-cautious about everyday things that the taking of a photograph can be attributed to ‘hostile reconnaissance’!

I take lots of photographs to help me with my work and I occasionally come across security guards who tell me about my (lack of) rights. I hope that this new guidance has been widely circulated by their governing body. But more importantly perhaps the Police need to read it too, after my son’s experiences earlier in the year?

So just to recap..“It is not an offence for a member of the public or journalist to take photographs/film of a public building. They do not need a permit to photograph or film in a public place…”

The Wrong Stuff

I studiously avoid daytime TV. There’s a reason – it is mostly turgid and is likely to shorten your life expectancy. One of the special programmes I avoid is The Wright Stuff – presented by the affable (and sometimes rather smug) Matthew Wright. You can see the programme here for a short time – the relevant parts are at around 1 hour and 8 minutes – just before and just after the breaks.

Yesterdays programme was about burglary (in part). The main thrust of the story was that perpetrators of crime are now being asked to write to their victims and apologise. But one of these sweet little angels wrote to his victim suggesting he was in the wrong for making it easy. So this was an interesting story -and does raise some issues.

But they couldn’t leave it at that and decided to run a little quiz – which went something like – what is the Burglary Capital of Britain – is it (a) Nottingham, (b) London or (c) Hull. We had to wait until after the break to discover it is Nottingham.

But Mr Wright delighted in telling us that Nottingham was Gun Capital of Britain, Murder Capital of Britain AND Burglary Capital of Britain. He laughed all the way through his auto-cue. It clearly amused him.

It took Tom Glancz some time to get a printed apology from The Times following a complaint to the Press Commission. Tom guest blogged here back in the Spring.

It seems that once again, Nottingham is victim to off the cuff, cheap and incorrect ‘facts’ uttered from the mouth of ill-informed ‘celebrity’ presenters. The only good thing is that this show can’t muster enough viewers to get in the top 30 of Channel 5′s programme schedule according to BARB.

In fact getting true comparable crime statistics is notoriously difficult (gun crime and murder statistics aren’t recorded in such a simplistic way) – but see the graphs below from last nights HMIC website – things might not be quite as bad as Mr Wright makes out? We are not perfect by any mean – but labelling us with his sensationalistic giggling ‘statistics’ is misplaced and grossly unfair.

Time to demand another apology? Feel free to express your view on the website

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged Cannel 5, crime statistics, Gun crime, HMIC, Matthew Wright, , Nottinghamshire, , Statistics, The Wright Stuff

Riot damage – who pays?

The last few days of mindless riots across the UK will have cost tens of millions of pounds. These were the worst riots in living memory and it is generally buildings that take the brunt of the anger of these mindless thugs (I am struggling to find another description for the so called ‘protestors’).

Anyone unfortunate enough to have sustained damage to their property will rightly claim on the Insurance. But it might surprise you to know that they will look to recover any losses from the Police.

Under the Riot Damages Act 1886 the Police have a legal responsibility to reimburse persons who sustain damage to property as the result of a riot. You must notify them in writing of your intention to claim within 14 days of the alleged incident. Most Insurers have a clause requiring early notification – so they can lodge the claim in the time limit.

The time limits imposed by this 125 year old law are critical and you might imagine against the backdrop of Government cuts the Police will be looking to avoid paying out on claims as much as they can.

But fundamentally (as it fairly predictable) it is you and I that pay for this. The Police are publicly funded – through taxes. And if you claim on your Insurance – your premium will certainly go up. If shops get stuff stolen they need to put prices up to recover their losses – either because of higher Insurance premiums / local taxes (Rates) or through uninsured losses.

I wonder if those hooded cowards think that they really are punishing the Government? They are punishing you and I? We all pay in the end.