Saturday, 16 October 2010

Good Cop Bad Cop


The police are easy targets for abuse and have been since the dawn of time. They prevent people getting away with stuff they shouldn’t be doing, they reduce profit levels for criminal gangs and they prevent kids from buying the life-threatening drugs they so badly want. But, ultimately, they’re there for our protection and, in essence, deserve our respect. So isn’t it about time they set about leading by example?

As a motorist, I see the police most frequently when I’m driving, and if I was to base my opinion of the force purely on the way they drive, then I would end up holding them in very low esteem indeed.

I frequently drive home from my girlfriends house just after midnight, at around what I imagine is end-of-shift for the local constabulary. And most nights I see police Ford Focus estate cars being driven at far beyond the local limit. There is a section of 40mph limit where I was doing bang on that speed but the police car, without its blue lights on, was accelerating away from me.

One night I was sticking to the limit just in case, and the unmistakable blue, green and white presence of a police Focus suddenly loomed up in my rear view mirror before swinging energetically off into one of the side-streets. I continued along the seafront trying all I could to resist speeding on the otherwise empty road and, a few miles later I saw the self same Focus ahead of me, same officers, same index number. They must have fractured every speed limit around to get ahead of me on the longer route they had taken. They were speeding because they wanted to get home quickly, didn’t fancy doing 30 or 40 in the limits and knew nobody was going to stop them.

I know I’m prone to being irked, but I found this annoying. Especially as I had been stopped before and cautioned for speeding on the very road they had just sprinted down. I know they have very probably had advanced training to be able to drive safely at high speed through town centres, but I don’t know any pedestrians who have had training to avoid being hit by speeding police cars.

On faster roads, the A12 in Essex, for example I regularly see police cars and vans driving at well above the speed limit without their blue lights flashing and, yesterday, most spectacularly of all, a Mondeo ST patrol car in Ipswich used its flashing lights and siren to bludgeon its way through a patch of heavy traffic, only to turn them off and drive normally once it was through.

Here’s the deal. Police, I know you’re important, you need to be in the right place at the right time, but there is such a thing as abuse of privilege. On duty, when enforcing the law you are subject to the same laws as other road users. I do not want to be stopped for speeding by a guy who habitually speeds himself.

I would love to see more of you on the roads, rolling along at around 70mph and pouncing to dole out punishment to wrongdoers. What I would like to see less of you hammering down the road, tailgating those slower than you and being generally discourteous. Also, if you’re doing 90 and I follow your example, doing the same, and you then switch your lights on and pull me over for driving too fast, can I accuse you of entrapment?

Joining the police force and driving turbocharged Volvo patrol vehicles seems as an excellent career for a frustrated joyrider. I’d hate that to be an accurate description of those of her majesties finest who I am supposed to repect and obey. I usually switch off comments as I'm not around to moderate them, but I'd like to know how many other motorists out there share my concerns.

Edit:- shit, forgot to enable!