This story isn’t exactly new, however it is always sensible to remind ourselves from time to time that incompetence combined with obsessive jobsworthery, blind subservience to technology to the exclusion of facts, evidence and plain common sense are the enemies of liberty. Oh, and we can do little things to help ourselves along the way.
A MOTORIST from Northampton had his car impounded after an insurance company’s error left police convinced he was driving illegally.
Except, of course, he wasn’t driving illegally and could prove it, so the car should never have been impounded. He had paid his insurance premium. He didn’t however, have the documents with him. When stopped because the APNR system alerted officers to an uninsured vehicle, he offered to be taken home to retrieve the documents.
There was a time when such an event would have resulted in a seven day produce requirement; the police accepting the motorist’s word at the roadside and the motorist having seven days to get the documents to the local nick. This always seemed a reasonable compromise to me. Sure there was a risk that someone might actually be uninsured, but questioning on the roadside and decent people skills on the part of police officers should reduce that to a minimum. Besides, most of us are insured, so the driver’s story has a high likelihood of being true. This man was offering to produce there and then. But what happened after the computer said no?
However the officers refused and impounded the car.
Nice little earner if you can get the work. Not only did Mr Adams have to fork out for his taxi fares, he also had to fork out £150 in extortion fees to get his car back, which should never have been impounded in the first place and it wouldn’t have been if the police had used a modicum of intelligence and common sense.
Now the reason for all of this lies firmly with his insurer for not updating the system – incompetence rules and all that. Indeed, incompetence and human error is a rich seam that runs throughout humanity with the reliability of gravity, so we really should be on the lookout for it and be unsurprised when it happens (Seneca would have something to say about that one). But also it lies with police officers who rely far too heavily on technology. The exercise of common sense at the roadside would have seen no money paid out and relatively little inconvenience to Mr Adams. These days, I ignore erstwhile advice not to keep such documents in the vehicle. I have more to fear from jobsworth police officers seeking to impound my vehicle than I do from car thieves, which is a sad indictment of our modern society and the database state. Mr Adams would have been well advised to have done likewise.
On the face of it there is a happy ending to this episode:
After being contact by the Chron, a CIS spokeswoman said: “Due to a clerical error, Mr Adams’ details were not updated on the Motor Insurance Database after he renewed his car insurance policy.
“These incidences are rare and we apologise unreservedly for the inconvenience caused. We will of course cover the full cost of the impounding fee and will also ensure Mr Adams is given an ex-gratia payment of £200 as a gesture of good will.”
So, Mr Adams is slightly in profit, which is a good thing, isn’t it? Until you ask the pertinent question; where does CIS get the money from to make such payments? Oh, yes, the policy holder…