Sunday, December 26, 2004

Yorks police respond to their critics

Christopher Booker, in his column today, follows up on the travails of this Blogger:

West Yorkshire police certainly have a clear sense of priorities. At 25 minutes to midnight last Saturday, two policemen arrived at the door of my friend (and co-author) Dr Richard North in Bradford, threatening to kick it in. Instead, they entered his home through a window, scattering china ornaments, and arrested him.

They took him to Bradford's main police station, where he was thrown into a freezing cell for the night without bedding.

North's offence was that, for the second time in a few months, he had withheld his council tax. This is his continuing protest against the ever-rising payments that are demanded for what he and his neighbours regard as the lack of any proper service from their local police. Their street has suffered from a long succession of burglaries, without attracting much interest from the police, until two years ago.

North was in dispute with the police over a minor traffic offence. When bailiffs came to his door demanding the keys to his £12,000 car in payment of a £60 fine, he pointed out that this was illegal, since the car was "tools of trade". The baililffs called the police. Within minutes, five policemen arrived and frogmarched Dr North to the cells, where he remained for several hours until his long-suffering wife Mary arrived with the money.

Only later were North's solicitors allowed to see the court warrant. It had specifically prohibited the bailiffs from removing his car.

Act Two of this drama came last summer when North paid his council tax, but withheld the "police precept". Ordered to pay by the court, he offered to make his payment by credit card. This was not allowed, nor was he permitted to leave the court to obtain the cash. He was sentenced to 14 days in Armley prison. It was only that evening, when a friendly journalist arrived with the cash, that the prisoner was allowed to go free.

Last weekend came Act Three, when North was again arrested for not paying council tax. Normally, with a bailiff, he could have paid by credit card. But when the two policemen arrived just before midnight, having been seen reconnoitring the premises that afternoon, they would only take cash. Since this was not easy to obtain at such an hour, he was thrown into solitary confinement for 36 hours, to await Monday morning when Mary could arrive with cash to
release him.

Asked why it had been necessary to arrest him at this hour, West Yorkshire police explained: "It so happened that resources were available at that time on Saturday night" (even though, elsewhere, Bradford was undergoing its usual weekend mayhem). A source inside the police said, rather more plausibly: "It was to teach him a lesson."
Although the police so often bleat about "lack of resources", it is very difficult to take them seriously when they seem to have so much time and resource available to pursue their own vendettas.

More to the point, its is a "given" in this country that the police operate by "consent", relying on the support of the greater part of the law-abiding community in order to do their job.

As the speed cameras proliferate, as the police retreat more and more from dealing with "ordinary" crime", and as they indulge in the sort of activity described in this Blog, one wonder how long it will take them to realise that they are increasingly losing the confidence and support of ordinary people. And what will they do then?


At 4:20 pm, Blogger Adnan Mole said...

It seems that everyone was just doing what they thought right. If anyone, the people who would really be able to answer the questions would be Bradistan Council.

At 12:19 pm, Blogger jen.thecool said...

Whilst driving down the motorway one morning at 4am, we were pulled over for having a slightly flat tyre. This was on a Saturday, just leaving Leeds. Big city, lots of crime, and they're chasing tyres that aren't quite as pumped-up with air as they are.
We were on our way to the airport.
They ruined the start of a great holiday.
We solemnly vow, one day, there will be carnage.

At 4:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he paid his poll tax on time like he is obliged to then he would not have the problems he has has.The Police do not put up speed cameras the government do,the police receive the fine which enables the Government to lesson the Budget for the police.This inturn stops the council tax going up even more than it does.I am against the council tax,dont think the police do a bad job,Am sick of everyone thinking they are a victim.Life is to short,Pay up get on with it.Or if you really hate things piss off abroad or kill yourself whineing will change nothing

At 8:58 pm, Blogger Holden said...

Being a cop doesn't mean I like cops. Lay off the ground level troops, they're doing what they're told to do whether they like it or not. The heirarchy call the shots without thinking about the consequences because they are so far removed from ground level. Cops have families and mouths to feed and if they didn't pay any of their due payments to the gvt. believe me they would be the first to be dragged out their homes and made example of because of the "they should know better attitude". Of course, there are complete plonkers in the Police Force too, but that's the same in any walk of life. I feel sorry for Jen.thecool, it has also happened to me and I am a cop. The traffic cop made me look a complete fool for something as trivial as a slightly defective window wiper! I could have whapped him, but we all know what that would have meant - me out a job! It's our job, we're ordered to do things we don't always agree with. Like I said, we have mouths to feed and bills to pay too... Please don't over-generalise, some are doing their best out there...

At 11:35 pm, Blogger Bystander said...

Of course anyone can be a martyr if they choose to. If it makes you feel better, do it, but don't complain about the process when you have chosen it.

As for the soft tyre, that's the sort of thing, especially on a motorway, that can overheat and blow out, cauing a high-speed crash. Now that really would spoil your holiday. The Police did you a favour pointing it out IMHO.

At 10:34 pm, Anonymous Andy said...

Cheers Bystander, for that practical advice on motorway safety. I'm off to check my tyre pressure. Or maybe I'll just have a wank. Again.

At 11:41 am, Anonymous Endie said...

Erm, man refuses to obey law repeatedly and ends up spending a day and a half in the cells. The only thing I'm annoyed about is that the law-abiding council tax payer - me, to pluck an example from the ether - can't reclaim the cost of police time from the criminal who is costing me money.

Still, I should be sympathetic. Whatever is truly wrong with this man's life that leads him to try and blot out all thoughts of it with serial confrontationism is clearly a weighty burden. I really, genuinely feel for his "long-suffering wife".

At 9:45 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a doctor not paying his council tax?
tut tut! raking in money and not paying council tax.... then wasting police time because it is their duty to arrest him, maybe if this loser was able to understand that he is tying up police resources that would otherwise be allocated somewhere else, perhaps he would reconsider. as for jen the cool? please!, the law says your tyres should be inflated to 32 psi yours wasnt and even a slightly flat tyre is a risk to you and other road users you were commiting a road traffic offence, you got done. live with it.

At 8:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the first post thats had me really worried... The police finally have reason to be quaking in their boots...

This is because Mr Norths tax protests are now joined by the fierce sounding "Jen the cool". Due to going on holiday without doing the most basic car checks first, she/he/it was stopped and warned about the tyre. Now she vows some day there will be carnage!

Jen the cool - there will only be carnage from the sanctity of your little home computer. In future, if going on holiday, or even going out in your vehicle, learn to check your tyres. Then the police are saved having to pull you up, and you are saved having to plot your serious carnage. HAHAHAHAHA

At 12:45 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone pointed out you can't decide which laws to obey????? You break them, you get in trouble, it really is that simple.
And to a previous comment - should you really be allowed to drive over a tonne of metal at 70mph if you can't see a flat tyre??

Funny how people who know how the police should do it haven't joined up and shown us...

At 11:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wind your neck in Jen and blogger.

Not paying your fines = jail.

Committing moving traffic offences = getting stopped and having the offence pointed out to you AT THE VERY LEAST.

Knobs like you and the confrontational Dr are keeping us from catching the burglars. Breaking the law is breaking the law and we cannot turn a blind eye to minor offences just because you don't like it. If knobs like you didn't commit the minor offences it would free us up to catch the real bad guys.

At 12:57 am, Blogger Richard said...

Bollocks - if you did not have us to pick on, your clear-up rate would be even closer to zero than it is already.

At 6:14 pm, Anonymous scotty said...

its official....jen is a dork

At 6:17 pm, Anonymous scotty said...

and's just as well the police are around for u to slag off mate, it's good that we give ur meaningless life a reason for actually being here

At 7:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Council tax"? Is that the same as "protection money"? But I thought the mafiament...err...government was supposed to protect us from such robber barons! That's it, I'm gonna write Don Blair and tell him exactly how I feel about this matter!

At 9:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had my car registration plates cloned and spent three months trying to prove my innocence to the police with regard to speeding offences. My experiences were mixed. Manchester police assumed I was guilty from the start and didn't hesitate to assert their authority over me - 'You're talking to a police officer you know'. I wasn't scared. Merseyside police tried to help but simply didn't have any procedure to deal with this type of crime. They sent me on my way with a - 'Good luck!'. Yeah thanks mate. Lancashire police treated me fairly. I think I got lucky with the individual traffic cop. He didn't automatically believe that I was innocent but then he didn't assume that I must be guilty either. He was impartial and explained to me exactly what I should do. He did his job well and I appreciated that. I personally don't like the institution at all but there can be decent individuals in there.

At 5:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had only limited dealings with the police but I found that if you are respectful and not cocky you are usually treated the same way.
I once undertook an old biddy who was driving along a 2 lane section of 40 mph road at 10 mph and holding everyone up, I didn't see the Police car further behind but he pulled me a bout 200 yds further on.
I got a right royal earful off him and rightly so, what I did was stupid and I said so but I'd got so frustrated. He said that although the old lady was driving slowly she was within the speed limit and it wasn't my place to try to dictate her speed.
He was a sound guy though, he could have given me a ticket but I was reasonable and so was he and he let me off with a talking to.
Treat people as you would like to be treated yourself and you should'nt go far wrong

At 9:01 pm, Anonymous Tarquin F Smythe QJM said...

Getting arrested can be very inconvenient.If you dont pay your taxes/fines/debts/commit offences etc you can get arrested Dr Wotsit knew he was going to be arrested for not paying what was all the fuss about when it happened? the courts instruct plod to carry out a duty...there is no room for debate. Did he really think that the matter would go away if he ignored it. i know he was protesting by with holding payment, and part of any succesful protest is getting the high profile exposure that comes with getting arretsedand making the daily rag....more power to his elbow i say...but dont blame it on the Police. As for that whatever his/her name is....motorway driving...under inflated tyre....should have pumped it up or left earlier. cant blame Police for the was your own neglectful there...or something. i suppose if they had not stopped you and you went on to have an accident that spoiled your holiday/life, then that wouldbe somebody elses fault as well?

At 12:48 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont want to spend a night in the cells?

Stop being an idiot and do what the law tells you to do like the rest of us then!

At 2:38 pm, Anonymous Billy Bass said...

I seem to recall that people who refused to pay the evil poll tax during the reign of Nazi Thatcher were heroes...

How times change.

At 3:57 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not paying the Police bit when he's paid the rest is just stupid. Almost as stupid as trying to drive a heavily loaded car down a motorway to the airport with a flat tyre.

The police DO have better things to do than arrest tax dodgers and lazy motorists. If everyone behaved on the roads, nobody had stupid accidents and people paid their taxes, the resources would soon be re-deployed to other areas!

Well-off upper middle class toffs with a bug up their arse about some past event where they didnt get the service they thought they deserved from the police service, didnt get the service they wanted because the Police were too busy patroling motorways and arresting tax dodgers!


At 9:07 pm, Blogger Richard said...

Er... the local authority, which collects the bills, decides to call us "customers". The police force, without us asking, decides to call itself a "service".

Customer? Service?

In my book when "customers" do not get the "service" they are entitled to withhold payment.

At what point do you craven imbeciles decide that a service provider should not be paid when they don't deliver?

Or are you all on welfare, sponging off the state so that you don't pay anyway?

At 2:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Am sick of everyone thinking they are a victim.Life is to short,Pay up get on with it.Or if you really hate things piss off abroad or kill yourself whineing will change nothing"

I think your idiotic, arrogant outlook is your main problem, not so much other people..we will stay here and make things better; you can piss off or stay but whether or not YOU will be listened to remains to be seen :D

At 3:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anyone pointed out you can't decide which laws to obey????? You break them, you get in trouble, it really is that simple"

Don't patronise people. And don't talk as though this country is a dictatorship - this is not Germany in the 30's. With your snotty attitude I am not in the least suprised people don't wish to join the police force..but there again, are you really expected to think when doing the dirty work for your masters?

At 3:08 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Funny how people who know how the police should do it haven't joined up and shown us..."

Was that comment made of a Saturday evening? If so then look, DO get a response!

p.s. If the station's closed, do be a good chappy and turn out the lights. We have the environment to think of even if the force is eager to portray a false image.


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