It’s a fair cop!
… I’d arranged to meet a former colleague to walk our dogs in the Country Park at Haddo House in Aberdeenshire. The house itself is a Palladian-style mansion owned, along with its gardens, by the National Trust for Scotland. The Country Park is an adjacent-but-separate entity run by Aberdeenshire Council
En route I’d slowed down to pass through the village of Pitmedden and was rather glad that I had as there was a police car lying in wait for speeding motorists. A pair of Aberdeenshire’s finest boys in blue were toying with a lidar gun.
“No bother”, I said to myself as I smiled for the device’s camera. The speedo showed that I was comfortably within limits, so you can imagine my consternation – and considerable surprise – when, just a few minutes later, I was apprehended by a constable.
“Evenin’ all”, he said (actually, he didn’t – that’s just literary licence), “I have reason to believe that you are driving an uninsured vehicle”.
I quietly considered my options. Telling him that I had reason to believe he should eff off and mind his own bleedin’ business would, on the whole, be counter-productive. Instead, I assured the officer that to the best of my knowledge I was fully compliant with the laws of the land.
“Fair enough”, he said, “off you go, sir, and have a good day”.
Actually, he never said that either. What he did say was that my vehicle was not registered on the Motor Insurance Database (MID) as having any valid insurance; hence the blue flashing lights.Now that rang a bell, as a few weeks earlier I’d received a letter from askMID telling me exactly that.
“There’s a thing”, I thought, “the filth has got me bang to rights” … or they may have done had I not contacted my insurer on receipt of the askMID letter and been assured that I was, indeed, insured.
It seems that the MID had not been properly populated with the company’s July insurance renewals. Nevertheless, despite my call to them, any follow-up action had seemingly failed to get the database updated.
Consequently, it took a while for my innocence to be proven. The Old Bill had others to call who, in return, had their own calls to make before I could feel the leaden hand of Plod lift from my collar.
Meantime, I conversed politely with the constable. He liked my dog and thought Haddo was a great place for walkies. He also liked my van, a bijou campervan, but was concerned that his oversized frame would be too large for it and, anyway, his wife wanted a big one, not a wee one.
In return I asked him when you should pull over if ‘blue lighted’; immediately or only when it is safe to do so? I was confused by his answer so, sadly, I’m no better informed
Eventually I was allowed to leave a free man and to continue my journey without hindrance or any stain upon my good character, albeit I was by then very late for the dog walk and left wondering quite how I could avoid the rozzers on my return journey!
Here’s the limerick:
It appeared to Plod, I’d ‘offended’
(Though no crime had e’er been intended),
But the law’s blues and twos
Soon conveyed me the news
That shortly I’d be apprehended!
Postscript: When you are in sight of the police automatic number plate recognition system, either from a fixed unit or mounted in a patrol car, your vehicle registration is ‘captured’ and checked against a number of databases such as the Police National Computer, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the Motor Insurance Database. The technology then flags up any anomaly, such as an uninsured, untaxed or non-MOTd vehicle or any other matter of interest to les flics. If the system is mounted in a patrol car, then the patrolling officers are alerted in real-time to the apparent transgressor and it’s let’s be havin’ you time!
Meantime, not only have you been observed, but you have also been recorded and even if yours is not a vehicle of interest, that observation will, ordinarily, be held on the system for 12 months.
If you are interested, the Home Office has published an impact assessment on data storage rules that can be found here. So, now you know. #BigBrother