Today's 'Sunday Times' carries a report which heavily quotes one 'Paul Slowey'.
Mr. Slowey runs an outfit called 'Blue Badge Fraud Investigation Ltd', described as 'a unique specialist criminal investigation and prosecution company'. Mr. Slowey appears to have set himself up in business, and all of his clients seem to be local authorities, in order to 'carry out comprehensive operations in target areas, identifying, enforcing and prosecuting cases of blue badge misuse'.
I am no longer a solicitor, and would not dream of offering legal advice on any subject, however while reading today's 'Sunday Times', the following questions came into my head -
1. In the UK, criminal investigations are conducted by the police. BBFI's claim that it conducts 'criminal investigations of suspected (Blue Badge) fraud and misuse' must raise some issues regarding how its operations interact with the Human Rights Act. It claims to be investigating alleged crimes - in what capacity? And upon whose authority? If it is upon the authority of local government bodies, do those bodies have the power either to conduct the type of investigations being conducted by BBFI or to outsource their conduct to contractors?
2. Esto BBFI's alarming comment that it conducts 'evidence and public interest tests and issue(s) a lot of warnings and cautions'. What warnings? What cautions? Upon what basis? In whose name? And upon what authority?
3. Again, it says it takes 'criminal prosecutions where badges are misused' (note, not 'allegedly misused'). In whose name, and upon whose authority? This is a private company, albeit maybe one that wouldn't appear to need to exist if local authorities ran Blue Badge properly. What is it doing taking prosecutions?
4. One wonders what safeguards are built in Mr. Slowey's business model to prevent his company being used as a passive instrument for the conduct of feuds and vendettas. In a society that increasingly looks upon the disabled as a burden, Blue Badge envy, the idea that someone has conned their way to privilege, can be a powerful force for ill.
My own Blue Badge is where only I can find it. I've tried to use it twice, and have succeeded in doing so only once. On the unsuccessful occasion, at Glasgow Airport, all of the disabled parking bays had been taken by rockin' great 4 x 4's, and not one of them was displaying a Blue Badge.
As Mr. Slowey would hopefully be the first to agree, that wasn't a victimless crime.
Labels: The Back Of The Bus