Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Evenin' all

It is not often that I have direct experience of the police but I was unlucky enough this weekend to meet one with a speed camera and who was kind enough to point it at my landrover.  Sadly for me my eagerness to get to my destination was recorded for prosperity and I was the proud owner of another 3 points for my license.

Hands up, I was guilty.  Unlucky, not concentrating, but never the less guilty.  The officer waived me over and gave me the standard (but slightly patronising) speech and caution.  What was interesting after that was the process the poor bloke had to go through.  It took over 20 mins to complete the forms and tap the right things into his computer.  The outcome was that I had to take my driving license into a police station with the insurance cert and pay the fine.

All that effort and yet

1) Why do I have to prove insurance when they can clearly see on the computer that the car is insured (the database is online now and is used by DVLA).
2) No useful instructions were on the form at all as to what to do and when
3) No payment information was provided on the form beyond the fact you had to pay at the police station

So off I trot today to the Belgravia police station (near where I am working).  I wait in the reception while a lady discusses her latest online hacking event that she had experienced while the perplexed police constable attempted to understand what the lady wanted her to do.  40 minutes later, after she finally got the lady sorted it was my turn.  She looked at the speeding form (not issued by the Met) like I handed over a demand for blue bananas.

I was invited to the back office counter (for a private chat as by then 2 guys on bail turned up with massive fighting dogs).  The poor police lady did not know whether she could take payment by card, she did not recognise the form presented to her nor what to do with it.  She had no idea either why I had to bring my insurance cert.  Another form was completed (A4 in small print) which took over 30 mins to complete while all the other people in reception had to wait. 

It is staggering that each police force has a different form for speeding.  It is staggering that the process is and could be different when the issuing of a fine can occur anywhere.  It is even more staggering that the form at the police station basically copied out the data already on the form issued at the scene.  It is beyond belief that she did not know how to or whether she could take card payments.

I was polite and I was sympathetic.  But I was shocked at what we put these poor people through.  It wasted over 1 hour of form filling and nonsense for this ticket.

I can spot some easy changes.

1) The police should complete the form online into their computers accessible by any police force.
2) If guilt is admitted at the scene the police should simply take online payment there and then.
3) If a person's license is on them then they should be taken on the spot and sent off when back at the station.
4) If ID is not provided then license and the fine reference should be taken to a police station and simply handed in.

It cannot be beyond the wit of man to simplify the process.


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