|Motorists encouraged to spy on rogue drivers
Motorists are being encouraged to spy on each other and report incidents of antisocial driving to the police under a new scheme.
| September 18, 2010
Thousands of drivers have been reported by fellow motorists after being spotted speeding, drink driving or talking on mobile phones.
Anyone reported twice in a year could face police action under the scheme, named Operation Crackdown. The culprits could receive a home visit or a warning letter.
Sussex Police is trialling the campaign and has already received 20,488 reports from the public. Warning letters have been sent to 2,695, while a further 1,047 have been sanctioned for offences such as having an out-of-date tax disc.
The scheme, under which reports are submitted anonymously online, could be rolled out nationally if it is deemed a success.
But privacy campaigners have likened it to the tactics of the Stasi in East Germany, which encouraged residents to inform on one another.
Dylan Sharpe, of the campaign group Big Brother Watch, warned that Operation Crackdown is "based on unfounded accusations by untrained and possibly prejudiced members of the public".
He added: "This scheme is wide open to abuse, ranging from people with minor grudges against neighbours to busybody drivers who think they know what constitutes bad driving."
A newsletter promoting the scheme reads: "Are you fed up with anti-social drivers? People who still use their mobile phones while driving, not wearing seat belts or those who insist on getting right up your bumper and are really annoying and dangerous to others."
Sussex Police said in a statement: "1,047 drivers have had sanctions imposed on them including 28 for driving while under the influence, 175 vehicles have been seized for being driven without insurance, 376 have been reported to the DVLA for document offences and local councils have seized 64 vehicles for not having current road fund licence".