Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013


We all know the phrase, “an accident waiting to happen” which generally means that an unpleasant or unnecessary event or events is highly predictable. At a time when many of the agencies providing input to the magistrates` courts are running on empty the last thing the government will want to see is an increase in the numbers coming to court to plead their case instead of taking their FPN (fixed penalty notice) like a man ought to do. This not quite the wild west where a man must do what a man must do. The idea of FPNs was and is to stop people clogging up the courts system pleading to minor offences. Indeed these FPNs assumed such numbers that the pendulum has, to sum extent, swung the other way owing to the not unexpected tendency of police to use them inappropriately. But, saith Grayling, thou shalt knoweth that thou shalt heed my words for come Friday August 16th in the year of Our Lord 2013 such FPNs shall result from traffic offences currently dealt with by summonses; namely driving without due care.

With reduced numbers of police cars patrolling the motorways of England and Wales those in the habit of eg hogging the middle lane when traffic levels are low or those seeking to allow their front bumpers to make illicit contact with the rear ends of those in front will be sent FPNs and a notice of penalty points for driving without due care. The evidence will likely be from patrolling police cars with video recording who won`t need to go to the time and trouble of stopping errant drivers or CCTV. All this is liable to increase the numbers who feel they are not guilty and will therefore opt to have their day in court mainly as unrepresented defendants. Of course time will tell but as in so many other recent initiatives this to me appears to be a quick fix to a problem which goes much deeper. Reduce the numbers of on the job police officers and sort the resulting problems as cheaply as possible.

As a matter of personal experience I recently drove about 600 miles on the motorways and A roads of the west and north west of Scotland and saw perhaps three times as many police patrols there than on 800 miles of recent motorway driving in England.

1 comment:

  1. I've long felt that one of the key roles of traffic patrols is to educate (as well as prosecute where necessary). This latest effort to change the rules goes against the principle of education being better than retribution and is, I think, a step backwards.
    Yes, lane hoggers and tail gaiters are a nuisance, and can be dangerous, but I still say that education ultimately is more effective.
    The average individual probably only comes into contact with the police as a result of driving, and how you are dealt with makes a key difference to how the public view the police, and ultimately how they co-operate with them in other ways.