Mr Mustard appreciates the existence of the thin blue line, it is essential to the functioning of society, and so this blog post shouldn't be viewed negatively by the police, especially in Barking who just happen to have fallen onto his radar, but as a serious question about how police time is spent. We can't have laws falling into disrepute due to a known lack of enforcement but really, stopping vans so that a council officer can check if there is a 'no smoking' sign within them and then issue a £200 Fixed Penalty Notice, is not a good use of police time. Our police have more valuable things to do, in Mr Mustard's opinion.
It seems that the below review has been forgotten (or quietly reversed?) and Mr Mustard has written to the Met to enquire what is going on.
Mr Mustard can't see that it is legal (he isn't a lawyer so could be wrong) or moral or proportionate, for a police officer to stop a moving vehicle for a driving licence check, say, and then 'hand over' the driver to a council officer for a discussion about the absence of a 'No smoking' vehicle.
This letter over-eggs what will happen. It is not 100% the case that the van hire company 'will' be prosecuted. A legal officer has to review the papers first and decide if it is in the public interest to start a prosecution and if the paperwork is good enough to start a case.
After disputing the FPN the council have rowed back on the likelihood of prosecution (which will be defended)
Mr Mustard thinks that given the poor English of the driver that it is doubtful if he could have given a clear answer to council officers. The blindingly logical conclusion is that if a driver was so astute and up with the law on no smoking signs so that he couldn't be given a FPN if stopped on his route that he checks every van he rents his next step if a sign is missing would be to add the van hire company for one or to put up the spare which he carries for this very purpose.
The other problem for the council's evidence is that the person found in charge of the vehicle was not the same employee as had collected it. Poof, the council case has just collapsed.
What drives enforcement of this type by councils? It wouldn't be the revenue stream would it?
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