Posted on

Public servants, or glorified tax collectors?

I remember growing up with a healthy respect for the police. They were our friends and protectors from criminals. It took a deliberate effort to become a criminal, you had to really try to do something wrong to get into trouble.

As I’ve grown older (and perhaps this is the case for every generation, I suppose) doubts have crept in. What with the growth of the internet and our ability to access news in real time we can often see acts of police brutality as they happen, along with MSM reports about this or that cover-up, act of corruption or outright assault on members of the public.

I’d never been on the wrong side of the law (deliberately or provably :-)) until I received my first NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) for a speeding offence. I started driving in 1988 and this NIP was received in 2003. It was a quiet Sunday and we’d been picking up a rescue greyhound. I was returning to Canterbury on the M2 and the 50mph speed limit for roadworks had commenced – it was a Sunday, the roadworks weren’t operational and all lanes were in use by the very sparse traffic. I didn’t slow down to 50mph quickly enough, opting rather to complete my overtaking maneouvre (on the outside, I might add) and as I crested the brow of a hill I saw a speed van on an overpass.

This was nothing to do with road safety in my opinion, it was purely about revenue generation and hitting targets. I was an easy target.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve received another NIP, for doing 74mph on a completely clear motorway. I was approaching Clackett Lane services westbound on my Suzuki GSXR600 and had failed to take notice of, or act upon, the temporary 60mph restriction due to congestion. I failed to take notice of it because there was no congestion, the road was clear ahead as far as the eye could see. The restriction had been in place for over half an hour and had obviously had the desired effect, but some inattentive numbnuts in the controlcentre hadn’t revised the limit on that stretch to a realistic level.

Also, some of my concentration points were taken up marvelling at the stupidity of the outside lane sitters who had 2 or 3 clear lanes on their left but were still sitting out there.

I now know what those sneaky little revenue generation cameras on that stretch of the M25 look like. No chance of getting caught there again because now I can brake sharply before reaching them. What, surely that doesn’t add danger of getting hit from behind?

I took the option of a speed awareness course rather than a fine or points, or arguing in court. As if I’m not aware, riding a motorcycle, of my speed. I’m hoping there’s a question and answer session.

And my respect for the police (it was their name on the notice, whether or not they have any control over their issuance) has taken another jolt, reinforcing my belief that they are turning into nothing more than glorified tax collectors and have no palpable role in real road safety whatsoever.