30 August 2014

Find your car stolen & get no help from Barnet Council / NSL / Capita

probably stolen, joy ridden & then dumped

Regular readers will know that Mr Mustard has an agony uncle column in the local Times newspaper group of papers and he gets requests for help from time to time. One that didn't get into the column but onto the front page was the case of Lili who was unfortunate enough to have her car stolen and then find she had 11 PCN to deal with (she hadn't quite realised the scale of the problem).

Lili had told NSL the car was stolen but they wouldn't take her word for it until the local paper got involved when suddenly she was telling the gospel truth (and she was on her way to Church when she found her car missing - if you can find something that is missing?)

Here are some extracts from the correspondence:
extract from the Met Police victim of crime letter
So, clearly a motor crime has been committed, quite possibly the crime of TWOC-ing - taking without the owner's consent.
Barnet Council / NSL's first response of 29 May
so this first response doesn't think of the victim of crime as an innocent citizen, a law abiding citizen deprived of her mode of transport worth £25,000, oh no, what is more important is that she might be trying to avoid a series of PCN worth £110 each. Very generously, the council offer the innocent pensioner the opportunity to pay £55 for a contravention that she did not commit and as there are 11 of these PCN presumably the council would be happy to relieve an honest citizen of £605 for not doing any wrong.
email of 1 June to Barnet Council / NSL
So, the crime reference is provided. It seems highly unlikely to Mr Mustard that people would go round making these up. You can tell from the tone of the correspondence that the case is genuine (27 years of debt collecting means that lies jump off the page for Mr Mustard)

letter of 11 June

A follow up as a 70 year old keeps up with her correspondence faster than NSL do.
Data Protection Act; the Police will not tell Barnet Council anything
This final letter, before the matter came to the attention of Mr Mustard and the local paper, at which time things suddenly changed, is the unhelpful product of a closed mind. Sadly, after a while, many parking people succumb to the philosophy that motorists are lying scum and any cancellation is a let off. That is misguided thinking which needs to be changed.

The funny thing is that as soon as a journalist asks about the PCN they are all magically cancelled (except they are currently live on the council computer so reams of paper will still arrive) without any further evidence being provided.

The system is wrong. It needs to be changed.

Firstly, the honesty question. A Notice to Owner contains the following declaration.

A person who knowingly or recklessly makes a false representation regarding an important fact is guilty of an offence and on summary conviction may be liable for a fine of up to £5,000.

Mr Mustard thinks that the whole way that parking PCN works is the wrong way round. If you do nothing, and don't engage with the process, you end up being automatically guilty of the misdemeanour of others and could end up with a bailiff seizing the car that was previously stolen and returned because you missed a deadline or didn't respond.

Even when you do respond the council expect you to jump through a load of hoops rather than believing you.

What should happen?

There should be a helpline (not with ruddy Capita who have nothing to bring to the party except a call centre which has to deal with a myriad of call types and don't have the ability to actually cancel a PCN - unless you know otherwise?) which you telephone and give the relevant car registration and your contact details.

Then when a PCN is about to be issued to the stolen car, the hand held equipment erupts in a cacophony of sound, notifies the office, and then NSL telephone the owner, on behalf of the council, to tell them that the vehicle has been found and where it is.

A PCN is not issued (hasn't the motorist got enough to worry about without stupid paperwork?). Any or all PCN which have been issued during the period of the theft are automatically cancelled without further ado.

Result: the motorist thinks the council are wonderful.

Mr Mustard has added this idea to his draft parking policy.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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