West Murcia Police : Oppressing the Proletariat

This is the second letter submitted by Simon Cullen.  This time, he directs his pen towards the West Murcia Police, who apparently caught Simon exceeding a temporary speed limit on the M5 and offered him a ‘Speed Awareness Workshop’ as an alternative to a fine and an three penalty points.  As you will see, Simon was unimpressed:

West Mercia Police
PO Box 25
Droitwich Worcs

Dear Mrs Hartland,

I have recently received a fixed penalty notice through my door for speeding on junction 5-6 of the M5 on the 13th September 2011.

Let me just start by saying that I fully accept the possibility that I, and the large queue of traffic that I was following southbound, were doing 59mph as we travelled through the road works. This was at 15:05 so traffic was just starting to build up, I can only imagine several 10’s of thousands of people have received these fixed penalties. So firstly, yes, I may have been travelling at the speed indicated, and secondly, congratulations for raking in some cash for the police benevolence fund.

The Journey

What I DO NOT accept is that I was driving dangerously, or unsafely, or recklessly.  No more so than the majority of the fellow migrants that I encountered on my long journey home.  In the weekend that I committed this heinous crime, you see, I and my family (two small children, one regular sized wife) had travelled from South Wales, to Carlisle, to Fife, to Glasgow, and to Ardrossan in Ayrshire.  From Ardrossan, we had travelled down through Scotland and headed back to South Wales.

At no point in that journey did I come anywhere near endangering any other motorist’s life.  The most dangerous thing that happened on the entire 973 mile round trip, was some idiotic sewer dweller tailgating me in heavy traffic and flashing the lights of her Audi repeatedly to get me to pull out of her way.  As she passed, she took the time to have a short break in the conversation she was having on her mobile phone, to give me a filthy look.  I’m sure she drove all the way home, with not a point on her licence or a fine to her name, at about 90mph.

I, on the other hand, did my best to keep a fluid flow with the traffic, made sure I stayed at least two car lengths from the car in front and kept alert and aware at all times.  I pride myself on having an excellent ability to stay alert while driving, and have excellent perception of danger.

The Crime

So, firstly, let me examine the crime which is going to take £60 worth of food out of my children’s mouths, and cost me three points on a licence that has been clean for over 15 years.

I was doing 59mph, on a motorway, in a temporary 50 limit.  Now, firstly, as I have pointed out, the traffic was flowing, but heavy by 15:00 on a busy stretch of motorway.  I was following the mass of traffic in front, and being followed by the mass of traffic behind.  Several times that day the road had been slowed to 50, then to 60, then back down to 50 because of the terrible conditions of strong wind and heavy rain in the morning.  So if I was breaking the speed limit, I’d be quite interested to see the statistics of the number of other people caught during that 10 minute period of driving through that section of road works.

59mph in a 50mph limit, so, that’s 9mph over the temporary speed limit.  The speed of a casual jog.  Although, I am led to understand after some research, that the recommended tolerance for U.K. speed limit enforcement is 10% of the speed limit (+2mph).  So in a 50mph zone, that would be 10%*50(+2)=57mph.  In other words, what I was actually travelling at, was 2mph over the speed limit tolerance.  The speed of a crippled glacier.  I’ve moved quicker than that whilst asleep.

My Options

Still, 2mph, it’s a fair cop.  My options now are to travel all the way up to Worcester to plead my case (costing my probably £60 fuel) or to plead guilty to this terrible act of automotive anarchy, take the three points on my unblemished licence, and send you a cheque for £60 that you’ll presumably put to use oppressing the proletariat or something.

But hark!  What is this we have?  Another option?

Yes!  I can drive to Worcester (£60 fuel) and attend a course at a “Speed Awareness Workshop” – for which I‘ll be charged £80 – to be taught about speed awareness.  I was travelling at 9mph over the speed limit and 2 mph over your own set tolerance and you want to try to blackmail me into attending a speed awareness course?  That is the greatest act of condescension that I have been subjected to in my time on this earth.

Over 900 miles I travelled in 3 days on the road (in a hurricane) and I didn’t have one moment of danger.  Not a close call, barely even an angry glance.  I drove carefully and alertly, yet you want to drag me 80 miles to Worcester (a very lovely city though it is) to make me waste a day off work, and indeed a day of my precious time on this mortal plane, to have you tell me that I shouldn’t travel 2mph faster than the speed limit on a motorway!

My Response To Your Offer

I am aware of the impact my car will have if it hits a bag of toddlers at 59mph on the M5 thank you very much.  I am also aware that I could drive my car into my own toddler at 2mph and it probably wouldn’t even knock him over, and he’s none too steady on his feet.

I would like to point out that I do not participate in, or endorse, the running over of toddlers, before you send the Sweeny around to beat me with hoses.

I would like to respond to your insulting, condescending, pathetic offer of “Education” thusly:-  I would rather obtain the course fee (£80) in 50 pence coins, heat them all in a pan, and push them individually up my own backside than be talked down to on safety by West Mercia Constabulary.

Could you please send me photographic evidence of my abhorrent infraction so that I can ascertain my own guilt, before I incriminate myself unnecessarily by filling out the guilty plea.

I will then send off the £60 cheque and a copy of my (currently unblemished) driving license for endorsement.

In Conclusion

I am led to understand that the police do an incredibly difficult and admirable job.  After watching several episodes of Booze Britain, it’s certainly not a job I would relish doing at 3am in Manchester City Centre, for example.  However, it’s petty nonsense like this sort of administrative nitpickery that take money out of the pockets of average, law abiding citizens and unfortunately tarnish the good work that the police do in the eyes of the people who’s pockets you’re ransacking, thus losing respect in the public eye for decent, hard working police officers.

I feel treating a person like a naughty school boy, because they were doing 2mph over a temporary speed limit, is not the way to garnish public respect.  Especially in a time where every time I turn on my TV, I’m being told of plans to abolish the speed limit on motorways altogether.  I would hope that anyone who reads this would agree that the punishment most certainly doesn’t fit the “crime” and the whole thing is a bit of a joke.

Please respond to my letter promptly so that I am within my time limit to get the form back to you.

God forbid it should arrive on your doorstep 43 seconds late or something.

Yours faithfully

Simon Cullen


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