Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Are You a Flasher? Be Warned

It wasn't my intention to post about this, but having watched a video I'm incensed.

I've done it - too many times to count.  Most drivers do it on a regular basis.  I'm not speaking about washing our cars but flashing our headlights to warn oncoming drivers of a hazard ahead.  As well as warning them of speed cameras, I've flashed my lights because of an accident ahead, black ice, road flooding and obstacles in the road - to name but a few reasons. It's not illegal to do so, but I did read some time ago that 'flashing' wasn't a 'code' but a friendly warning of problems ahead.

 If someone flashes their lights to me I usually slow down and become more aware of my surroundings and also check out my own car at the earliest opportunity if nothing was visible on the road within a few miles.

Have you behaved in what I consider a courtesy to fellow drivers?  Very possibly.

The photograph is of Michael Thompson.  He flashed his lights to warn fellow motorists to obey the speed limit because there was a speed camera ahead.  The policewoman who stopped him said he was to be charged. He now has a criminal record and his case has occupied the courts for the best part of a day - when courts are bulging at the seams we're told and staff can't cope with the amount of cases.

Mr Thompson states on the video in the above link that the police didn't tell the truth in court and he firmly believes he didn't break the law.

Other than our police taking up court days with non-illegal actions which are then translated into illegal actions, the disturbing aspect of this case is Mr Thompson says the police didn't tell the truth in court.  

I would hope he will contest his guilty verdict with the help of some kind lawyer who  sees justice should be done in this case but if not, I do hope he applies to pay it off his fine and court fees at 50p or £1 a month which is the 'going rate' for those who contribute nothing towards the expenses of the UK.

Be warned.  If this happens to you because you're exercising your 'civil duty' then you could be well out of pocket plus a criminal to boot.

This isn't justice.  Spending nearly a day in court at public expense, prosecuting an action which isn't currently illegal but will now be regarded as such without any Act being passed, should concern all of us.  Michael Thompson was doing the job of the traffic police insofar as he was ensuring traffic would slow down for a hazard.

PS  If the video on the BBC website isn't there, it has been removed by them.  My link is a cache which I hope works, but when I returned to the site whilst writing this, the video was missing.


Joe Public said...

"Michael Thompson... denied wilfully obstructing a policewoman in the execution of her duty"

Of course he's guilty. Her duty was to achieve a pre-determined Revenue "Target" via 'Fines'.

Dick Puddlecote said...

His defence was ill-advised. Instead of talking about hazards and braking suddenly etc, he should have come out and said that he was doing exactly what the police were there for ... slowing people down.

The only option for the police then would have been to admit that his deterring speeding had deprived them of fines.

You're right to highlight it, Rosie, it may be only a minor case but it says volumes about the contempt our authorities have for the public.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

The plod don't like having the piss taken out of them. Simples. A while ago some bloke took a photo of a marked police car going the wrong way down a one-way street. They spotted him and threw him in a cell for five hours. Avon and Somerset of course which tells it all. There was talk of disciplinary action but of course it never happened.

Here's the full story:

But his complaint brought a volley of abuse from PC Aqil Farooq.

And when Mr Carter took a picture of the van then tried to photograph the officer, PC Farooq rushed out of the shop and knocked his camera to the ground.

Mr Carter was then arrested and bundled into the van over claims he had 'assaulted' an officer with his camera, resisted arrest and was drunk and disorderly.

He was held in a police cell for five hours before being released on bail at midnight.

Mr Carter, 44, lodged a complaint and has since received a personal apology from PC Farooq and Rob Beckley, deputy chief constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

The force yesterday refused to comment on the case, except to say that the disciplinary process was resolved to Mr Carter's 'satisfaction'.

It is understood no further action was taken against PC Farooq, who is a member of the Black Police Association's Avon and Somerset branch.

According to a report from the Bristol Equalities Network published two years ago, PC Farooq's duties within the BPA included work with the wider community on 'good relations with the police'. At the time he was the branch's general secretary.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh THAT sort of flasher? I thought you were trying to find the location of... well, never mind.

Police? I can honestly say that I can't remember the last time I found one of them to be of any use at all.

If they are not murdering innocent bystanders they are dragging people out of their wheelchairs, harrassing innocent motorists, using the police computer to obtain information useful to them in their personal or political life, or sitting chattering in their cars in the middle of the road taking up all the space and daring you to challenge them.

No wonder the criminal classes call them pigs. I think personally it's a bit insulting to pigs.

Sack three quarters of them, especially the ones at the top.

Brian said...

This post from The Staggers helps explain why Mr Thompson ended up before the Bench. Never argue with an authority figure in a uniform as it only inflames their inferiority complex. Most police are either ignorant of much of the law or ignore those bits that create work but they have all been well-schooled in those regulations that maintain their superiority over us "civilians". In this case, discretion, however annoyed Mr Thompson might have been by the copper's bumptiousness, would have been the best course followed by a complaint to the Chief Constable about the constable's behaviour. Sneaky but effective.

Anonymous said...

Needless to say, Subrosa, the really, really bad think about this case is that he was found guilty; the important point being that there was no reason (or evidence?) to suppose that any of the drivers he flashed his lights at were speeding. But it goes further than that, doesn't it? I mean, supposing one saw someone light a cigarette in a restricted place, would it be an offence to say to that person, "Eh. I would put that out if I was you. There is a policeman coming down the street behind me". Or another situation - you see someone vandalising something. You say, "If you don't stop doing that, I will call the police".

He should appeal because he did nothing to obstruct the police. On the other hand, the only reason that this prosecution was brought was for publicity reasons.

Were the police on that occasion guilty of intimidation and harassment? Looks likely to me.

By saying the above, am I guilty of obstructing the police in their duties?

Smoking Hot said...

Learn how to use your mobile phone's features, folks. As far as l know, all models have voice record ... use it! You could buy a dictaphone such as the Sony for about 30 quid ... it records for over 500 hours digitally.

You should record any interaction with uniforms and such ... period!

subrosa said...

She appears to have been more concerned at achieving her 'gotcha' target than keeping the road safe Joe.

subrosa said...

I think he conducted his own defence Dick. Read that somewhere.

It is only a minor case Dick but this type of behaviour goes on day in and day out in the police service. I've experienced the bully-boy tactics myself.

subrosa said...

Thank you for the link Brian. Aye, it all seems about querying the police's judgement doesn't it.

That's how I handled what happened to me years ago. Complained to the CC. I then had a senior officer visit me and explain - not apologise - but explain. The unsaid apology came in the form of 'should you ever feel intimidated again by any traffic officer get in touch immediately'.

subrosa said...

It does go much further than that junican. We've already seen the bullying given to a pensioner.

Mind you, I think the traffic police up here are a separate department and a law unto themselves. According to a retired police friend that is.

subrosa said...

Now there's an idea SH. I'll get the handbook for my phone out right now.

subrosa said...

I'd agree with you Tris. In my lifetime I've met few who have been of much help, although the few who did help did so beyond their call of duty.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that story WW. Says it all doesn't it. 'You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' and to hell with fairness.

JRB said...

Surely to goodness there must be a policeman somewhere, in a position of authority, who realises that such officious behaviour by, usually, junior officers merely adds to the publics ever growing contempt for the force.

Anonymous said...

One more way to create a divide between citizens. Every day, it's-a getting closer going faster than a roller coaster, a dictatorial police state like theirs will surely come our way.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Rosie, I saw that as well. It's absolutely infuriating. I hope he appeals.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

I did similar 8 years ago and got a (made up) speeding ticket, which I eventually paid (2 years later)as work travel made courts impossible.

Good point there Dick.

Anybody bothered to check how many plod and especially civvie support goons + friends have had their tickets shredded in the last year?

I think we should be told.... The last time around it caused a reasonable stink - but the civvies blushes were spared.

subrosa said...

There must be John but it would appear that they are silenced in some way.

subrosa said...

Aye Rate of Dissent, they continue to chip away, losing more and more common sense.

subrosa said...

I hope he does too DL.

subrosa said...

I've tried to find out via google Gordon, but nothing really. It would take a FOI I think.

John McClane said...

Flashing your headlamps to warn other motorists of police ahead is common practice both here in Turkey and up in Bulgaria and probably all across Europe.

Whatever you do in the UK these days, there's bound to be a law against it and if there isn't a specific law there's always one that can be used.

As for the police, I'm in total agreement with Brian, Tris and the Wrinkled Weasel above. You used to have to be 5'8 or taller and at least have some common sense to get into the police. If you couldn't, and still wanted a uniform, you had to be a traffic warden.

subrosa said...

The police have changed in the past 20 years John. They are not selected for common sense anymore. The 'bobbie' has gone never to return.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Hard to see how he was obstructing the filth, really.

His action resulted in there being no offenders for them to catch.

So, if I fit better locks on my house, and as a result nobody breaks in, am I "obstructing the police"?

Oh sorry, I forgot, they don't investigate house-breaking anyway, so the targets don't apply there and I wouldn't be obstructing anything.

subrosa said...

Tut tut, silly you WY, but you finally realised burglaries don't make money for them or help with promotions.

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