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.

Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Monday, 7 November 2016


On September 15th I suggested that the only way to curb the use of mobile phones being used by drivers was a first time offender being banned for three months.  However I also pointed out that if police forces were so under manned that fewer patrol cars were in our towns and cities to catch offenders then no deterrent would be effective. But in that metropolis of Grantham where the farm animals probably outnumber the humans it seems police were right on the spot to achieve another collar by their devotion to duty in reporting for prosecution a driver unable to clear a windscreen because the fluid bottle had run dry.   

I am amazed at myself for feeling so outraged when I read the report.  Surely by any standard such an other offence seems to have been committed.........warranted a simple warning from police.  Indeed the bench could have used its discretion in the level of fine.  

I recollect an incident when I had recently begun working professionally and my car at the time was a very old and a bit rusty Mini Cooper S in mechanically perfect condition but with some mickey mouse door decorations stuck on by a previous owner.  I was stopped by a police car whilst well within the limit (30MPH) and after the usual questions on ownership, insurance etc I was made to test every single aspect of the vehicle so an officious bastard of a young cop could check if everything from warning lights, to brake pedal, to handbrake,  to seatbelts, to steering wheel, to brake lights, to indicators,  to windscreen washers was working effectively. They were. His face took on the appearance of one miserable so and so as if he were fourth in line for three free cup final tickets.  He kicked my front off side tyre and returned to his vehicle.  The fact that I remember every minute of that stop so long ago indicates the effect it had on me. 

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

1 comment:

  1. "no other offence seems to have been committed"

    Other than the wiper rubber hanging off and the headlight not working you mean?

    I've only ever heard of washers being prosecuted if the screen was not clean. Are you suggesting that driving around with a windscreen you can't see out of is not a serious matter?

    That all said, its quite possible that the matter was dealt with via a Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice which gives a cooperative driver 14 days to fix the fault, and prove it has been resolved (usually done at an MOT station), in order to avoid prosecution. The scheme only works if the authorities prosecute those who don't cooperate with it. The fact she was prosecuted suggests one of three things is likely to me:

    i. The defects were serious and affected safety, AND/OR
    ii. The driver's attitude to fixing them (or the officers) was uncooperative, AND/OR
    iii. The driver failed to complete the voluntary fix on time.

    In my experience those facts are often not presented in a courtroom, and so lead to stupid headlines like "fined £300 for empty washer bottle", of course that is good click bait and we should all know better!