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Opinion

Peter Lamb: Boosting Crawley’s reputation

In his weekly article leader of Crawley Borough Council talks about the numerous ways the council is trying to promote the town.

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Five months into 2018 and it still feels like we’re waiting for the good weather to start.

True, the Early May Bank Holiday was the hottest on record, but it was still snowing in March and we’ve yet to go more than a few days without cold or rainy weather.

Campaigning in the rain during local elections wasn’t much fun and it has played havoc with grass cutting, where rain has both encouraged faster grass growth at the same time as preventing heavy cutting machinery from being used.

We did, however, get lucky with the weather on Sunday, as Crawley played host to the town’s first half marathon.

It was great to see such a large mass-participation event take place in Crawley, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and it gave a boost to a range of local businesses.

As a council administration, Labour are constantly working to increase the range of leisure opportunities and events in the town, to boost Crawley’s reputation and promote the local economy.

Unfortunately, it’s rarely plain sailing.

The half marathon inevitably involved some road closures and understandably this result in some complaints.

For all the people you see enjoying the new Queens Square there are others who view it as a waste of money, just as there were those who complained when we finally managed to bring an ice rink to Crawley at Christmas, after years of residents’ requests.

Sadly, in government, you’re never going to please everybody with anything you do. At the end of the day, the only way to avoid any objections or complaints would be to do nothing, in which case we’d all lose by default.

Crawley is a great place to live and so long as Labour control the council, we’re going to keep working to make it even better.

Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council

Opinion

Should I stop for an unmarked police car?

A post on social media shows there are a lot of people wondering what the answer is.

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“If a car flashing for you to pull over or stop is unmarked, unless you are 100% certain it is the police, do not stop.” – That is the official advice given by Sussex Police.

Various posts have been circulating social media regarding unmarked police cars, one in particular springs to mind that has been shared over 40,000 times (accurate at the time of publication).

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It details the story of “Lauren”, who was driving to visit a friend when she saw the dreaded blue lights flashing in her rear-view mirror – an unmarked police car was attempting to pull her over. Lauren’s parents warned her about unmarked police cars, and advised her to “wait until she got to a service station”. Remembering this advice, she called 112 (not to be confused with 101, the police’s non-emergency number).

The post claims that 112 is “an emergency number on your mobile that takes you straight to the police because 999 does not work if you have no signal”. These claims are unsubstantiated and a quick search on Google reveals that there is no advantage in using 112 over 999. Both will take you through to the emergency services.

But back to the main point of this Facebook post. After speaking with the police, Lauren was told that there was not a police car in her location. The operator told her to “keep driving, remain calm”.

So the story ends with this unmarked car being surrounded by four police cars. A man was pulled from the car and it turns out he was a convicted rapist and was wanted for other crimes too! What’s perhaps most startling, is that a story like this didn’t get any attention from the national press…

The post goes on to say: “I never knew that bit of advice, but especially for a woman alone in a car, you do not have to pull over for an UNMARKED car.

“Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going to a ‘safe’ place.

“You obviously need to make some signals that you acknowledge them, ie. put on your hazard lights or call 112.”

I don’t know what the original poster’s obsession with promoting 112 is but, as we already established, it is no different from dialling 999.

I’m always suspicious when it comes to posts like these: the majority of them contain a pack of lies and/or (delete as appropriate) completely unfounded claims. So, after looking through the comments, I found most people were taking this story at face value. However, nobody knew whether or not it is a legal requirement to stop for an unmarked police car.

So here it is. The official advice from Sussex Police if there is an unmarked police car behind you, flashing you to stop:

“An unmarked police car can stop vehicles, but it must contain a constable who MUST be in uniform in order to carry out the stop.

“If a car flashing for you to pull over or stop is unmarked, unless you are 100% certain it is the police, do not stop. Drive steadily to the nearest public place (for example a petrol station where they are open till late, a police station or somewhere there are a lot of people) and then stop. If you are in a relatively deserted area, as a last resort, consider looking for a house that is obviously occupied and pull into the driveway. You can always apologise to the householder afterwards.

“Try and signal that you have acknowledged the request to stop and indicate the action you are taking (put your flashers on or signal by pointing from the driver’s window etc.). Don’t drive off at great speed making the police think you are trying to get away.

“Keep the doors locked until you are happy it is the police. Have your mobile at hand just in case. You can ask to see a warrant card, which should carry the police officer’s name and photograph, through the closed window.

“Incidentally, if you are suspected of drink/drugs driving none of these actions would invalidate an officer giving you a preliminary test as you have only temporarily interrupted your journey and are still driving for the purposes of that law.”

And for those wondering if Lauren was right to use her mobile phone to call the emergency services while driving, Sussex Police say:

“The use of the mobile phone to call the emergency services on 999 is permitted under the regulations, if you are acting in response to a real emergency and it is not safe or practical for you to stop to make the call.”

The story of “Lauren” may or may not be true, but there is one thing we can take from this post: If you’re worried about pulling over for an unmarked police car, don’t do it.

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