The surveillance society is alive and well

  Forum Editor 23:22 04 Aug 2009

and living in London - and probably every other town in Britain.

I was sitting in my car this morning, reading some notes before joining a fairly important (for me) client meeting. It was 7:30, and the prosperous leafy side street in South London was as quiet as the grave.

I spotted a movement out of the corner of my eye, and looked up to see a shiny clean transit van cruising slowly towards me. It had what appeared to be a camera mounted on each of its front corners, just above the cab, and as it drew level with my car it slowed even more, and one camera slowly panned until it was pointing straight at the front of my car. Then I saw the lettering on the side of the vehicle - it was a DVLA logo, and they were cruising the streets, reading numberplastes and scanning windscreens, looking for untaxed/uninsured vehicles before people left for work.

As I left the meeting and drove back along the same road I saw two cars with wheel-clamps and big signs on the windows proclaiming 'Untaxed vehicle'.

I wasn't sure how I felt; satisfied, because law-breakers were being scooped up in their absence, or rather sad that we have come to this, spying on each other outside our own homes, and making sure the neighbours know all about it when someone's caught out. I'm still thinking about it, and probably the truth is that I feel both satisfied and sad at the same time.

  dagnammit 23:30 04 Aug 2009

You're implying the tax dodgers have the ability to feel shame and I don't think they do.

If they are not taxed then they probably haven't got insurance either, so rather than clamped, I'd like to see them crushed.

  Autoschediastic 23:36 04 Aug 2009

Im with you on this Peter! i see why ur satified & yet somewhat sad! There is other ways that other goverments around the world do it, But above all things like this seem somewhat transparently aiming towards making money for the councils! i suppose i dont live in London so its not as bad up here! but its still becoming a country where its one of the most expensive/the most monitored (cctv) & i think its fair to say one of the most pressurised to live in! Will they be a end to it.? no i doubt it the councils do what they want!

  Spark6 23:42 04 Aug 2009

Where to start? There can be no doubt that untaxed vehicles have to be taken off the streets.
Does the means justify the ends? What is the cost of the surveillance? How are the offenders punished? There most certainly is no simple solution to this, and many other, anti-social and possibly criminal acts.

  Forum Editor 23:45 04 Aug 2009

A local authority makes no money from fines imposed for untaxed vehicles.

  Forum Editor 00:01 05 Aug 2009

I have no argument at all with a society that punishes law-breakers.

What slightly disturbs me is the way that we appear to be swinging the pendulum away from

'we're going to trust each other to be honest and upright citizens, and punish those who aren't when they're detected'

and swinging it towards

'We don't trust each other further than we could throw each other, so we're going to snoop and ferret because we know you must have something to hide somewhere along the line'

There's an argument that says 'well, if you didn't go around trying to beat the system at every turn, and developed a social conscience we wouldn't need to be so suspicious' But I wonder... do increasing numbers of people see our social and legislative structure as something to be ignored or observed as the fancy takes them, just because we have added layer upon layer of control and restriction?

Not taxing your car is a pretty foolish thing it must be said - you're bound to be caught eventually - and I'm not suggesting that we should go lightly when that happens. As I said, what slightly disturbs me is the thought of prowling vans, reeling in the harvest in the dawn light; it seemed a little sinister to me, that's all. Perhaps I'm going a little soft in my not so old age.

  OTT_Buzzard 00:03 05 Aug 2009

A local authority makes no money from fines imposed for untaxed vehicles....

just a thought: how much does it cost to run a dedicated well equipped van to detect illegal cars? How many do they have to catch on a daily basis to make it worthwhile? The implication of course being that there more than a sufficient amount of law breakers out there to make it economic.

A stat on the news a while a go said that 1 in 20 vehicles on the UK's roads is illegal (no tax, insurance, MOT or driver unlicensed).

If there are 20m cars in the uk.....

  JYPX 00:12 05 Aug 2009

Hmmmm......I am not sure exactly what the intended purpose of the big sign is but perhaps it will stop a well meaning neighbour from getting the cutting gear out to stop the nice man next door from being "bullied by the clampers".

  Forum Editor 00:19 05 Aug 2009

I'm sure that the big red and yellow sign and the clamp are calculated to make the vehicle's owner feel shame in front of his/her neighbours.

  spuds 00:21 05 Aug 2009

The DVLA logo vehicles have been around my neck of the woods for ages. They are actually contractors working for the DVLA, and very efficient they are, in clamping and removing vehicles within the day.

DVLA have a confidential hotline, which passes any information about untaxed vehicles to the contractors for vertually instant action.

The DVLA contractors also work with the police and other agencies on vehicle stop check points.

Far better than the old days of the CLE2/6's, which took ages to enforce.

  Stuartli 00:22 05 Aug 2009

In my area, Merseyside police and the DVLA use ANPR technology to bring those who avoid paying road tax, insurance or are in stolen cars to face the consequences.

You will be surprised how many vehicles involved are Mercedes, BMWs and other expensive marques.

The cars are impounded on the spot unless proof of tax, insurance or ownership can be provided.

Incidentally, if you renew your road tax on-line towards the end of the month, you now get five working days into the start of the valid month without facing a charge of failing to display the tax disc; this is to allow for postal or other delays.


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