2/5/2007UK: Police Seize, Crush Innocent Car
Manchester, UK police use of ANPR leads to the seizure and destruction of a car belonging to an innocent man.
Greater Manchester, UK police seized and destroyed a man's car because an Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera mistakenly believed it to be uninsured. Steven Booth, 36, had been driving to work on January 8 at 2am on Blackburn Road in Bolton when police stopped him after the ANPR machine indicated a hit. The machine's database insisted Booth had no insurance for his Peugeot -- even though he was, in fact, fully covered. Police ignored Booth's protestations to the contrary, hauled away his car and left him stranded on the side of the road.
"I did nothing wrong, but they crushed my car," Booth told the Lancashire Telegraph. "The police's attitude towards me was unbelievable. They said I might have canceled my payments, in which case they would charge me with deception."
When Booth's wife brought proof of insurance to the police station, police continued to ignore his plight and insisted he pay £105 (US $205) plus storage fees of up to £168 (US $328). Booth did not have the money and objected to the idea of paying on principle. Police then allowed the towing company to crush Booth's Peugeot.
Last year, Greater Manchester Police seized 41,000 vehicles for paperwork violations, generating significant amounts of revenue.
"It was just a matter of time," said Safe Speed road safety campaign founder Paul Smith said. "Policing requires a human touch and cannot be successfully carried out by cameras or computers. British policing has long been regarded as the best in the world -- but is becoming an international laughing stock."