Snitch Britain Part… Oh, I Give Up

Via Al Jahom, this nasty bit of new policing.

Thousands of drivers have been reported by fellow motorists after being spotted speeding, drink driving or talking on mobile phones.

Anyone reported twice in a year could face police action under the scheme, named Operation Crackdown. The culprits could receive a home visit or a warning letter.

Sussex Police is trialling the campaign and has already received 20,488 reports from the public. Warning letters have been sent to 2,695, while a further 1,047 have been sanctioned for offences such as having an out-of-date tax disc.

The scheme, under which reports are submitted anonymously online, could be rolled out nationally if it is deemed a success.

Oh my… Where to start? So Sussex police will take action against motorists on the basis of an unfounded anonymous allegation? Two such unfounded anonymous allegations will result in a home visit or a letter. Never mind that these unfounded anonymous allegations may be entirely malicious, the police will believe them and follow them up? My ghast should be flabbered. If we had not had thirteen years of a deeply nasty, vicious, authoritarian government that actively encouraged this Stasi-like behaviour, perhaps it would. As it is, nothing surprises me anymore. Nice to see that the Cleggerons are carrying on where Brown and Blair left off and allowing this to happen.

But privacy campaigners have likened it to the tactics of the Stasi in East Germany, which encouraged residents to inform on one another.

Dylan Sharpe, of the campaign group Big Brother Watch, warned that Operation Crackdown is “based on unfounded accusations by untrained and possibly prejudiced members of the public”.

Well, yes, but given all those new laws on the statute book, we are probably all guilty of something…

Al Jahom mentions another aspect – one that affects me as much as it affects him; the high mileage driver who drives assertively.

There is a further problem though. I drive getting on for 30,000 miles a year. On a mile for mile basis, that makes me 2-3 times more likely than the average 10k a year driver, to be reported by some embittered numpty. And yet the bar for police action is set at 2 reports over a given period, not per 30000 miles driven. Of course it’s obvious that they can’t realistically judge it on miles driven, but the result is a creation that is manifestly unfair to those of us who drive a lot, in the course of generating revenue for the tax man to steal from us, to play for police.

My mileage is similar and I drive according to the Roadcraft manual, too. I also ride a motorcycle and there are plenty of small-minded, mean-spirited pecksniffers who would report me for merely going past them when they are stuck in traffic – because bikes are dangerous innit. I’d run up these reports by the dozen given the way that new Britain has adopted this illiberal, petty and downright anti-social hectoring, self-righteous, finger-wagging, intolerant do as I say attitude.

A newsletter promoting the scheme reads: “Are you fed up with anti-social drivers? People who still use their mobile phones while driving, not wearing seat belts or those who insist on getting right up your bumper and are really annoying and dangerous to others.”

Yes, tailgaters and people who drive without due care and attention do annoy me. The rest of it I couldn’t give a damn about. Driving without a seat-belt is not antisocial driving. And I will not become a police informer if I see it. Indeed any feeling that I might have towards helping them with their work disappears when I see such wicked behaviour on their part. Let them do their own dirty work – they’ll get no assistance from me.


  1. Quite right. I too would never inform on another member of the public.
    I don’t do the miles you do, but the miles I do do are usually accompanied by a big cigar (and even sometimes without a seatbelt. Gosh!). If they roll the scheme out in my area I’m sure the local anti smokers will jump at the chance.
    If I were to get one of these letters on my mat, it would be returned with a note saying, “I’m sure you can prove these allegations in court?”

  2. Get the buggers back by sending in complaints and number plates of course about every single police vehicle/parking stasi vehicle you come across. Especially the unmarked ones!

  3. Glad you did this as I was tempted, there’s a lot of it about.

    I felt very uncomfortable when reading this, for example.

    Who videos their neighbour arguing? Isn’t this rather sinister, or have I got it wrong?

  4. The police could send as many letters as they like and l’d return them saying please refer to Arkell v Pressdram.

    Apart from that, the vehicle is registered to my wife who spends most of her time in Bulgaria. lt is also insured any driver over 25. When l’m not using it or am in Bulgaria, friends and relatives have access to it. lt is for most part like having diplomatic plates. 🙂

  5. I’ll do that where it is practicable. However, often it is not practicable. The worst offenders in my experience are the trucks who drive a few feet from your numberplate through roadworks. Can’t let ’em pass.

  6. Sure LR. That’s a problem, especially now that so many roadworks have theft cameras installed and traffic tends to bunch up.
    Before the cameras it was often just a case of driving at over 56mph until the hazzard was over.
    Another one the camera fetishits (I like that typo, so it can stay) didn’t think of.

  7. Another place they do it is on the variable speed limits on the M42 around Birmingham. I was doing the 50mph through this stretch a few months back. I could see the grill of a truck in my rear-view mirror. Eventually he moved out into the next lane and harried someone else. I saw him a few miles later over on the hard shoulder exchanging details with the driver he had rear-ended…

  8. Another ‘snitch’ type to look out for is the cyclist with the helmet camera! There’s loads of footage on youtube from these people who film drivers on mobiles and other such indiscretions and they also go on to some government/police website to tell on them.

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