Causing alarm distress or annoyance

18 May

A couple of evenings ago I had a knock on the door and found two police officers on my doorstep who explained that they had had a complaint from a local resident about someone matching my description who had ‘banged on their door’, told them to move their car and had also said that ‘the police were sh**’. I confirmed that I had indeed ‘rang their door bell’ to explain that their parking had resulted in a wheelchair user having to go into the road. I explained that I was about to report the neighbour’s Jaguar to the police (again) for also making it impossible for the wheelchair user to get past and would report her if she didn’t move it. I did also explain that the police had very little power to stop pavement parking. You will note that my ‘ringing the doorbell’ is her ‘banging on the door’ and that my ‘the police don’t have powers to act’ was turned into her ‘the police a sh**’. The neighbour’s Jaguar is incidentally already in the rogues galley.

The policeman, who I knew, told me that it was illegal to ring people’s door which was news to me! I assume that he was referring to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which introduced an offense of ‘causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress’ (section 154). I hardly think that politely raising an issue with a neighbour on their doorstep once is what the Act was intended to cover.

He also reassured me that if there was a parking problem locally then I should leave it to them! Unfortunately for them and us that is plain wrong and they can’t. He didn’t seem that interested in hearing about the meeting I had just earlier the same day with his sergeant where we had agreed that in many cases it was too much work for the police to make it worthwhile to prosecute even where there was good evidence. Interestingly, in researching this post I did come across a useful piece of related legislation in the Police Reform Act 2002 which gave the police power to seize vehicles ‘used in manner causing alarm, distress or annoyance’ (section 59). It was clearly the opinion of this particular officer that I was causing intentional alarm and distress by raising the tricky issue of this driver’s parking on the doorstep but that the vehicle owner was not causing ‘distress or annoyance’ by leaving the car across the pavement. But hey, ho, that is how it normally works at present whenever pedestrian and motorist issues conflict.

Anyone campaigning on this issue does need to be careful not to stray into ‘using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or display any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting‘ which could result in a day in the magistrates court for harassment!

If the local police do wish to have a go at sorting out pavement parking in the town then here are some challenges for them. All these drivers have parked vehicles completely across the pavement or across and raised crossing in the past 48 hours and most have also blocked a dropped kerb, and… one of these vehicles is the very same Jaguar that I mentioned earlier and which was back blocking the raised crossing the day after I had reported it to the police in almost precisely the same stop as it was when I took the picture in the rogues’ gallery.

Large van completely blocking pavement and dropped kerb while driver popped into the corner shop

Making a deliveryto the university while fully on the pavement and blocking a dropped kerb

Removal van needlessly block busy footway on approach to the college campus

Our friend the Jaguar driver again

4 Responses to “Causing alarm distress or annoyance”

  1. Graham Martin-Royle May 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Great, just great. If you’re a motorist you are allowed to get away with anything but should you try to raise a justifiable complaint about a motorists behaviour, then you are the one that is harassed by the police.

    As for the police ever taking any action, I have grave doubts about that ever happening. The reason for my doubts is simple, the police are as big a bunch of culprits when it comes to obstructing the pavement as anybody else.

    I had a meeting with my local C.I. a while back where I was told that it was a matter the police took seriously and all officers would be instructed not to obstruct pavements needlessly again. I got to this meeting having had fruitless meetings with junior officers beforehand. It now appears I’ve got to go through the whole rigmarole again as the local bobbies have reverted to regarding the pavement as a parking place yet again.

    Until the police themselves are willing to obey the law, there is virtually no hope of ever getting them to enforce it. I would like to get my local MP involved but as soon as he realised that that would mean complaining to the police about the police, he backed away very rapidly.

    My latest complaint is about a police car which not only parked on the pavement, it obstructed a raised walkway provided for the disabled. The driver didn’t even have the excuse of trying not to block traffic as the particular road he was on doesn’t actually have any traffic on it.

  2. livinginabox May 19, 2011 at 6:56 am #


  3. pro bono June 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    There can be no justification or excuse for the delivery van parked on the pavement outside the UCS building because there is a dedicated parking bay for delivery vehicles just around the corner in Coprolite Street.

    • livinginabox June 21, 2011 at 6:38 am #

      Coprolite Street’, irrespective of the architecture or the pavement parkers, I’m sure it isn’t that bad.

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