Sunday 8 December 2013

Season of ill-will

There have been various reports this festive season of police forces offering rewards to people who successfully inform on drink-drive offenders. Let me make it quite clear that I do not condone lawbreaking, but, whatever the offence, the principle of “the end justifies the means” to secure convictions is never acceptable. And, as Longrider points out here, getting children, relatives, friends and neighbours to inform on people has always been a staple tactic of totalitarian regimes. It is fundamentally un-British. Even the Campaign Against Drink Driving have their reservations.

It’s also not quite as easy as you might think. You might imagine you’ll see drink-drivers in any pub with a car park. But, if you are prepared to sit there for a prolonged period, assess the means of transport of every arrival, tick off how much they drink, make a judgment as to when they’re over the limit, establish the registration number of their car, work out in which direction they’re heading, and then inform the police, then I wish you luck. A few years ago, one police force announced they were allocating officers to act as decoy courting couples in rural pubs to spot offenders. But I’d wager the results were pretty meagre.

In reality, the only way such schemes will work is if people are aware of a persistent pattern of behaviour by individuals they know well. And, if you are a true friend or a caring relative, surely you will make your best efforts to deter the individual concerned from breaking the law before actually shopping them. The most likely outcome is simply that it will encourage people to pursue personal grudges and vendettas.

And, if the rewards are sufficiently high, it could even lead people to act as agent provocateur by egging drivers on to drink more.


  1. And, if the rewards are sufficiently high, it could even lead people to act as agent provocateur by egging drivers on to drink more.
    Or spiking their drinks. Couldn't happen?

    If I reported everyone who drove as though they were half-cut, I'd already be out of free minutes on my phone.

  2. The Blocked Dwarf8 December 2013 at 13:50

    Paid Informers are about as un-British as it gets- and I say that as someone who fairly regularly informs on Drunk Drivers (aka 'wankers')but I do it out of conviction when I happen to encounter one.

    Call me a cunt but I have lost too many friends to the "I'm fine to drive still" tossers, and when I become King Of The World there will be a 0 % LAW...with exemptions for trace amounts of blood alcohol for medications etc (see, I'm no fanatic).

    I should perhaps add that I am a dry alcoholic myself but that when I was in my drinking phases I used to sell my car- that's how much I loath people who drink drive.

    But paid narks are NOT RIGHT. We need more traffic cops on the roads. Last New Years I had to drive during the night and the whole 40 mile round trip I didn't see one Policey Car on the road or on the side of the road having pulled someone over to blow into the doggy bag.

  3. I shall be reporting the driver of every car I see in every pub car park I pass. I am bound to get lucky eventually. Far better odds than the lottery.

  4. The Blocked Dwarf8 December 2013 at 17:56

    " in every pub car park"

    Years ago I happened to have a discussion with a leading light of the German Young Socialists and I suggested that Landlords be held liable if someone drove off from their pub and was over the limit. Said Young Socialist was HORRIFIED and maybe even disgusted by my suggestion. I got the whole 'everyone must be responsible for his own actions' speech and how we couldn't expect landlords to police their own establishments nor should we dictate how they run their businesses etc....

    Said Now-Not-So-Young German Socialist is a big supporter of the Smoking Ban, the UK style Smoking Ban.

    No dichotomy there then.

  5. It's worth remembering far more people are killed or injured by sober drivers than drunk ones. There is also a whole world of difference between those who get behind the wheel but are only a fraction over the limit, and the irresponsible idiots who think they are OK to drive after a skinful.

    Btw Blocked Dwarf, I will call you a "see you next Tuesday"! Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of you and your band of snitches. Words fail me. The spirit of National Socialism is certainly alive and kicking in 21st Century Britain! Time to jump ship I think.

  6. None of the comments mention that at the time of year when people are most likely to drink alcohol that public transport goes AWOL. Buses and trains provision should be a public service, not a 9 to 5 weekdays job creation scheme.

  7. The Blocked Dwarf9 December 2013 at 00:19

    "It's worth remembering far more people are killed or injured by sober drivers than drunk ones."

    I have the misfortune to live in Norfolk-trust me I experience daily how badly sober people drive. Steven Fry makes jokes about Norfolk Drivers but it's not really a laughing matter...especially not for the Blues & Toons drivers.

    "those who get behind the wheel but are only a fraction over the limit, "

    Those drivers display an almost Nazi-esque self delusion in their 'Ubermensch'lyness. Unlike the whole "science" of ETS, the science of alcohol AFAIK is fairly clear...any amount of alcohol will have an effect (again, I'm an alcoholic and know more about the effects of alcohol than most).

    " Blocked Dwarf, I will call you a "see you next Tuesday"!

    And that is your right Sir...still although I dare say it will be an offence soon enough if the Daily Mail get their way.

    "Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of you"

    Possibly, but he'd be prouder still if I were to follow my baser instincts and ram said Wanker off the road, drag his drunken arse out of the car and beat the living daylights out of him. I don't view it as 'snitching' but self defence. Hell I'm almost humanitarian , seeing that by my pulling over and cellphoning the Peelers I'm not only saving my life and others but maybe the Wanker's as well (although IME Drunk Drivers have a Guardian Angel and are seldom the corpse at the RTA).

  8. The most pertinent thing about this suggestion is that it’s been made at all, because it’s yet another indication of how little policy-makers understand the nature of the real British pub – probably because the only “pubs” they ever go to are the ones which have morphed into restaurants-with-a-pubby-name which aren’t pubs at all and where few, if any, people actually go in there just to drink alcohol. They seem to think that pubs, post smoking-ban, are now full of curtain-twitching, nosey old busybodies (perhaps those were the “droves of non-smokers” whom they anticipated would flock to pubs in their thousands once the ban was in place), when in fact the remaining customers in pubs, by and large, are the same ones as used to go in there before the ban, just minus the smokers.

    So it won’t come to fruition, of course, for all the reasons you point out, Mudge – even the “wildly popular” smoking ban snitch lines were closed down after six months due to lack of interest. Pub-goers just aren’t the types to want to grass up their friends and acquaintances. And non-pub-goers simply won’t be in pubs in the first place to witness who’s drinking and driving and who isn’t.

  9. Let's hope we never get a dictatorship in this country, judging by some of the comments here. If anyone wishes to report others for drink driving, that's up to them.

    As a drinker and a driver, I don't approve of driving over the limit, but reducing the limit to zero is a cheap and easy way of appearing to be strict while doing nothing whatsoever. The idiots who have a skinful will take no more notice of a zero limit then they do of the present law. The only people who will be affected will be those who carefully stay within the limit. But the desire to do "something - anything" about the problem would have been satisfied, until it becomes clear the nothing of value has been achieved.

    So what would I do? Three strikes and you're out. A lifetime ban for any driver found driving over the limit on 3 separate occasions (or perhaps even 2 - I'm not fixated on 3). If found driving during a lifetime ban, prison. If found driving during an ordinary ban, automatic lifetime ban. That would have a greater deterrent effect than making the limit zero.

    All we need now is enough traffic police to apply whichever law we have, as there clearly aren't enough now.


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