We’ve all been driving around the Island for years knowing that, unless we did something really stupid, it’s highly unlikely a traffic police officer would pull us over. The Island’s traffic cops were withdrawn years ago and, unless you made a habit of getting speeding tickets or were frequently caught using your mobile telephone at the wheel, that was terrible news.
We can assume our patrol officers were reassigned and they’ve probably been working from home, PCs sitting at PCs, looking for hurtful comments on social media, or (who knows) possibly golly-spotting? True, they’ve saved us a fortune in new BMWs and petrol, although the money we were paying for traffic policing seems to disappear into that cavernous black hole where all of our taxes go.
Despite axing the Island’s traffic cops, the police and crime commissioners do have one notable success; they’ve managed to keep those inflation-busting tax increases coming. As with all public services, we’re paying record sums for less and less, and this year the fire brigade wants an extra 7.1 per cent too!
Traffic cops didn’t just hide in hedges, speed guns at the ready. Spotting and stopping cars meant catching wrong ’uns, drug dealers, burglars and other criminals on the move; they weren’t just there to keep errant drivers on the straight and narrow. Sadly, traffic officers were replaced with something far worse, those easily-maintained stupid flashing speed signs. We all regularly pass them and, unless you’re that elderly woman caught up in a dramatic low-speed pursuit on the outskirts of Newport last week, it’s guaranteed you will have illuminated one.
If you’re doing 29mph, they beam their benign green smile, but if you dare pass them at a reckless 31mph, they show their displeasure by frowning and turning red. They are infantile devices, because (unless you’re that elderly woman driver) you can laugh at them as you speed past. Only law-abiding motorists comply with advisory roadside signs. The drunks and reckless boy-racers we all see haring around, with impressive noisy aftermarket exhaust systems and lowered suspensions, pay them no heed whatsoever. Lawbreakers are not the least bit bothered by coloured flashing signs; oh no, drunks can’t see straight, and boy-racers have a determination to show off regardless of the weather or traffic conditions.
Irritating expensive flashing advisory signs were not the only thing replacing traffic cops; there’s now an army of people with dashcams. A few of them delight in uploading what they amateurishly believe to be criminal activity on the roads; some even sport bumper-stickers boasting of their important voluntary role and on-board TV equipment. Naturally, the dashcam motorists are the slowest drivers, busybodies dressed in beige who feel rage when they spot any vehicle driving faster than them, overtaking, or exceeding 29 mph (make that 20 in Godshill or Brading). Thankfully the majority of us, blessed with social lives, friends who make us laugh, jobs we enjoy and places to be wouldn’t do such a silly thing, we just don’t have time!
Depressingly, like all governments, Boris’s constantly spews out new laws which they themselves cheerfully ignore. Inevitably, with fewer police officers, the best hope for law enforcement is if ordinary people can be persuaded to shop their neighbours. And yes, that snitching includes Covid garden parties, planning breaches and bonfires in next door’s back garden.
STOP PRESS! Hurrah! Bad news for drunks, busybodies and boy-racers, Donna Jones, our surely pointless police and crime commissioner, has done a handbrake turn and awarded the Island not one, but two new traffic cops. On the rare occasions they’ll actually be on duty, you’d best mind how you go!