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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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Let’s just waste more money on imprisoning people for speeding and lying

One man was only six miles over the speed limit while the other was 12mph over.

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Sussex Police have published a press release where two men who lied about speeding were sent to prison. Initially when you read the story it appears two men have been given prison sentences for breaking the speed limit by so little BUT this is where you need to read past the initial report and see what is really going on.

First the background:

CASE ONE:

On 29 May 2017, a white Ford Focus activated a speed camera in Ditchling Road, Brighton – it was travelling at 36mph in a 30mph zone.

A Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) was sent to the registered keeper in Hove, but no response was received.

Therefore a new NIP was sent to Colin Drewitt-Barlow at an address in Sompting on the basis the vehicle was insured to him.

A reply was received stating Drewitt-Barlow no longer resided there, and further enquiries led to another NIP being sent to his new address in Coleman Avenue, Hove.

The 31-year-old, unemployed, and now of Downsway, Southwick, replied and nominated another person, however this proved to be a false name and address.

In police interview, Drewitt-Barlow denied driving the vehicle when the offence was committed or ever owning it. The case was then submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which authorised a charge of perverting the course of justice.

Drewitt-Barlow pleaded not guilty but later changed his plea to guilty at Lewes Crown Court on 12 December 2018, where he was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge.

CASE TWO:

On 25 June 2017, a black BMW M3 activated two speed cameras in Sussex – it was caught travelling at 38mph in a 30mph zone on the A259 Marine Parade, Brighton, and at 72mph in a 60mph zone on the A24 at West Grinstead.

Two separate NIPs were sent to the registered keeper – Ozgur Uzum, 45, a fast food employee, of Salvington Road, Worthing, however they were both returned nominating another person from Hampshire.

Both NIPs were sent to the nominated driver but no response was received. Enquiries revealed this person had been nominated before, and it was confirmed the individual had been a victim of stolen identity.

In police interview, Uzum continued to deny the offences, however he later changed his plea to guilty after being shown an image from the A24 incident, which clearly showed him driving the vehicle in question.

The CPS authorised two charges of perverting the course of justice, and at Lewes Crown Court on 10 December, Uzum was sentenced to five months’ imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge.

The CPS authorised two charges of perverting the course of justice, and at Lewes Crown Court on 10 December, Uzum was sentenced to five months’ imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge.

So what is really happening is two people are going to prison for perverting the course of justice. Something which can actually hand out a life in prison term.

In-fact both men could have got away with a small fine and some points had they just admitted it was them.

Instead, by lying they have forced mountains of paper work, an appearance in court and now tax payers money to be wasted on sending them to prison.

Surely now sentencing needs to be examined so that rather than wasting tax payers money on putting people inside an already packed prison system they are forced to pay for the huge amount of cost that was allocated into chasing, charging and convicting them.

Sussex Police launched Operation Pinocchio in 2016 with the following aims:

  • To improve safety on Sussex’s roads by tracing and prosecuting offenders who provide false information in an attempt to avoid prosecution;
  • And to prevent law-abiding motorists, who have been badly advised, from committing serious criminal offences by attempting to avoid speeding or red light offences.

BUT unless sentencing changes are made all this is going to do is add even more financial pressure on a system that needs to reform urgently.

At a time when the police have never been under such pressure to perform and reduce crime figures perhaps more thought should have gone into whether publishing this outcome would have a positive or negative impact on them – even though they were only following the law.

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