January 23rd, 2011

So who should pay?

Posted in The Job - General by 200

The Sunday Telegraph runs a story today on the police garage recovery scheme, which is drawing in millions of pounds a year from victims of car crime.

Basically, the scheme is as follows, when a stolen car gets found the police arrange for it to be recovered by an officially approved local garage. The garage then take the car back to a secure pound while the hapless loser is informed that their car has been recovered. They then turn up at the garage to be met with a bill for £150 plus £20 per day storage. In many cases the fee is recoverable from the insurance claim, however, often the fee has to come out of the pocket of the victim, particularly if the value of the car is low or they don’t wish to lose any no claims bonus.

Car crime victims often say it feels like they are being mugged twice, once when their car is stolen & once by the police when they are forced to pay to get their vehicle back. Not all forces operate the scheme the same way. Some forces have an ‘opt out’ policy; they ask the loser when they are reporting their car stolen, whether they want the police to recover it or leave it in situ. This saves them from having to fork out garage recover fees. Other forces will give the owner of the car half an hour to get to it before they recover it. This is fine when the loser is in a position to drop everything, always assuming they are physically within 30 minutes travelling distance of their car.

The scheme has come about because historically, when the police found a car, we would turn up, see it was there & then leave it for the owner to collect, the problem with this is that it leaves the car open to being stolen again, after all, who is to say that the car thief hasn’t just parked it up for a while fully intending to come back to it? Why not just sit up on the car & arrest the theif when they come back? Fine in theory, how long do you wait? Thirty minutes, an hour or two, all afternoon? And what if they do come back, get in the car & then fail to stop & end up killing someone or writing the car off? it’s not gonna look good in Coroner’s Court explaining why you let someone get behind the wheel of a stolen car when you could have just taken it away & prevented any further crime & danger.

So we came up with the garage recovery scheme. And whilst I can see the need for a garage to become involved & be paid for its services, I also have a great deal of sympathy with the victim who gets their car nicked, and then gets stuffed with a bill for getting it back. That’s what insurance is for? Except if your car gets recovered without any further damage & your excess is £200, it’s coming out of your pocket matey.

So who should pay?

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  1. Ben says:

    Sounds reasonable to me. Of course they should pay for recovering their own car. Looking at it another way, yes it’s not such good “service” for the “service users” but on the other hand it’s lower taxes (or more coppers), so swings and roundabouts.

    If they don’t want to risk their excess, they should buy a policy without an excess.

    I would prefer to be asked if I was able to pick it up myself, but if it was causing an obstruction I don’t think I would have any complaints.

    January 24th, 2011 at 08:58

  2. PC Dave says:

    In my force we recover the vehicle for SOC examination. Because we make the request for the vehicle to be seized, not the owner, we foot the bill. The only people who do pay for their motor to be collected are those who have committed offences, such as driving without insurance, or those min request we seize it for them, normally after a breakdown or an accident.

    Never had any thanks though for our victim centered approach.

    January 24th, 2011 at 09:58

  3. Ex-RUC says:

    We never had a garage bill in my days. True, we didn’t always collect the cars because that encouraged certain groups to booby-trap them, but any that were taken in for SOCO examination didn’t cost the owner a penny. We just considered it part of the service.

    January 24th, 2011 at 11:20

  4. Civ_In_The_City says:

    It`s ironic when modern policing bends over forwards to please everyone, and will investigate the dropping of a sweet wrapper to keep our ‘communities’ ‘satisfied’, but they`re willing to piss off vast numbers of motorists like this.

    Sure it`s easier to have a one-size-fits-all system in place, easier for the police. But how does it fit with all that victim care stuff?

    Bad news: Your car has been nicked. Good news! We`ve found it for you. Bads news: Now give us a hundred quid or you ain`t gettin’ your car keys.

    Maybe if all the cars were parked up in a police compound somewhere it would get filled up and embarrass the chief when people realise how much car crime there is in his area.

    January 24th, 2011 at 17:33

  5. Jimbob says:

    Same in my force as PC Dave’s – we recover for SOCO if it’s suspect stolen and the owner therefore isn’t charged.

    January 24th, 2011 at 20:14

  6. Ted says:

    In my farce the correct procedure was when a stolen car got found the owner was to be contacted and given the option to arrange his own recovery, (within 30 minutes) or come and get the car if drivable. Only if neither applied was the contractor to be used. Problem was the control room tended to skip this step to speed things up. Then not only was the owner billed for the recovery but he was told he couldn’t get his car back until it had been fingerprinted. The management didn’t like the SOC box being ticked on the job sheet.

    I dealt with quite a few complaints from car owners and managed to get most switched to the police paying the bill. Almost without exception they had not been contacted before the car was removed at their expense.
    It’s a good system for when the owner can’t be contacted but it stinks when shortcuts are taken and the when the public are billed for stolen cars which are really getting removed for scenes of crime or for police convenience.

    January 25th, 2011 at 09:07

  7. Gary says:

    This is a variation on the old Black Rat scam. Car needs recovering – can’t recommend a garage well sir ABC garage is close and quick. ABC attend Black Rat gets a bottle. Now of course its official nice earner for someone eh!

    January 25th, 2011 at 15:08

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