Thursday, May 21, 2009

This is England?

A man arrested because his MOT certificate was a dubious shade of green.

Mr Cook, a self-employed roofer, was informed that staff at the centre in Gosforth, Newcastle, believed his new MOT certificate to be fake because it was a lighter colour than the old one.

He was taken to a nearby police station where he had to give a DNA swab, was fingerprinted and photographed, then placed in a cell.

I can't believe that this sort of thing can happen in England - especially as I know that the DVLA can check almost instantly whether an MOT certificate is valid or not. They must be able to do that because I renew my tax disc by phone and that process includes them checking my insurance and MOT electronically.

So the staff at this centre must have known that Mr Cook had a valid MOT, but still chose to call the police over a questionable piece of evidence - and the police must also have known that the MOT was valid, but still decided to waste time and persecute this man on the basis of the most flimsy suspicion?

Next time someone tells you that if you've done nothing wrong you've nothing to fear from the proliferation of intrusive databases, monitoring and surveillance by the state - think about this incident. A man arrested because they didn't like the colour of his paper.

For Christ's sake - this is England! We're not living in some satellite state of the USSR, but it's increasingly starting to feel that way. We're fast becoming a nation where we're constantly checking over our shoulders to see who is watching us - like the old East Germany where there was a state police snooper on every street corner, in every office and often in every family.

Why did the police have to arrest this man? Was that really necessary? A bit of common sense and a couple of phone calls would have sufficed to determine that the MOT was genuine, but I'm not convinced that they even had to go that far.

As soon as they arrived at the DVLA centre a quick word with the staff, a 30 second check on the computer - problem solved. Mr Cook gets his tax disc, the police get on with something more important and the DVLA staff don't get to look like complete dickheads in a national newspaper.


Anonymous said...

Arrests: +1
goes into the crime stats database.

dickiebo said...

As I have been saying for a long time now - the police have been given unbelievable power to arrest people on mere suspicion! God help us.

Stan said...

Yeah, but I can't even see what suspicion there could have been, dickiebo. The DVLA must have known that the MOT certificate was valid or they could have checked instantly on their systems. Whatever it was - they were in the wrong and so were the police. It's utterly disgraceful.