I received a number of emails in relation to the BBC show, ‘PARKING MAD’ in which the police go onto the streets shoulder to shoulder with bailiffs to rob the public and steal their vehicles. The question on everybody’s lips – except the police who remain blissfully ignorant – is, is it lawful?
If you haven’t seen the show, then let us describe the horrors within:-
Scumbag bailiffs – rechristened as Civil Enforcement Agents (CEOs) – take to the streets with Automatic Number Plate Recognition devices to snatch vehicles that have distress warrants registered to them for unpaid parking fines.
When they locate a suitable victim, the police step into the road and wave the vehicle down. They then tell the driver that the bailiff wants to talk to them. This is followed with a threat of arrest if they decline to accept the invitation.
The bailiff is then unmuzzled and sets upon the driver with threats and intimidation. Either cough up a months wage or lose their vehicle.
Because the bailiffs are using out-dated unauthorised ANPR datasets, at least a third of all drivers stopped are bullied for debts that don’t even belong to them! Usually because they have just bought the vehicle from the person on the warrant, or the warrant details are incorrect.
Worst still, many of the court warrants are issued on behalf of private car park owners and supermarkets and have incurred ridiculous bailiff fees that can’t even be challenged or clarified because the bailiffs don’t have access to the information.
Holding vehicle owners to ransom on behalf of greedy local authorities should never be a job of the police. But the police see bailiffs as one of their own and are happy to loan themselves at as muscle for hire if it means terrorising the general public. Something the police seem to enjoy.
What the police are doing here is no less than criminal. It is state sanctioned obtaining money by menaces, and an abuse of their powers to stop vehicles under S163 of the Road Traffic Act. That along with a huge list of wrongs incurred by the police’s disgusting behaviour:
- Unpaid parking fines are not a criminal offence. Any police officer waving down a vehicle solely for a bailiff to reclaim a debt is abusing his authority and is contravening the Police Standard Operating Procedure CO15 ANPR 2.3 which states:- “Police officers must ensure that they are acting impartially and not be seen to be acting as civil debt recovery agents.”
- A bailiff cannot seize a vehicle without prior notification to the debtor of not less than 7 days as per notice 6.—(1) Subject to paragraph (3), The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013
- A bailiff cannot seize a vehicle that is in use by any person at the time at which the enforcement agent seeks to take control of it, if to do so could cause a breach of the peace. As per section 10.—(1) of the The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013.
- An enforcement officer cannot use force to enter a debtors premises. Nor can they push past the debtor. A vehicle is classed as premises and the bailiffs intrusion is both trespass and an interference with goods.
- There is no power for police to pursue a person or vehicle just because they refuse to speak to an enforcement officer.
- Enforcement Agents are not registered data controllers. The dataset that they are using to locate vehicles has in all probability been handed to them unlawfully by the local authority. Therefore, the stopping of vehicles in relation to such data is unlawful and in breach of the Data Protection Act.
- Any officer that assists bailiffs in mugging the public in this manner can be charged with misconduct under the Police Reform Act. They are also in violation of the Police Code of Conduct which states:- “Officers should be open and truthful in their dealings; avoid being improperly beholden to any person or institution; and discharge their duties with integrity.”
Meanwhile this self-serving street gang that we call the police undermine our freedoms, with toal impunity because the general public are too cowardly to stand up for themselves in the face of such brazen abuses of power. It was galling to see how many of these drivers simply handed over their vehicles without fight, perhaps trying to limit the embarrasment of having a TV film crew watching them. A TV film crew that was no doubt instrumental in the entire set-up.
I would encourage everyone who has been affected by this to begin the steps necessary to reclaim any money or property that they handed over to bailiffs in this manner. It is your lawful right to have that money refunded to you.