In perspective

ANOTHER Easter has come and gone, and most likely some of you readers got booked for speeding or some other offence during the regular police ‘Blitz’.

I didn’t go away for Easter, mainly because I can’t put up with the crowds or the traffic.
During my years in the cops I rarely had Easter off. Maybe that’s got something to do with it. I enjoyed an Easter holiday of surfing, fishing, going to an NRL match (that’s Rugby League for our readers outside NSW and QLD), working on my road racing bike and catching up with family.

All in all, great weather, great times. I haven’t heard what the road toll for the period is but as history has shown, any holiday period is a dangerous time to be on the road.
The Pacific Highway had benefited from road works over the last half a decade or so and as a result improved the road immensely.
While road conditions now play less of a part in accidents on the Pacific Highway, fatigue is still a huge problem, and probably the biggest killer on our roads in my opinion.

The day before Easter Friday I drove north to Bulahdelah, just south of Taree on the NSW north coast, to meet a friend. I saw no less than five HWP cars in a 60 kilometre stretch, and while at Bulahdelah for an hour or so saw two police bikes too. You expect this sort of presence during these holiday times but it’s what’s happening during normal times which is a bit alarming.
I had an ex-police friend comment not long ago that unless it was life threatening you wouldn’t bother calling the police because they either won’t turn up or will take many hours to do so.

There are many reasons for this, and I believe one of them is the closing or winding down of small stations. Mega stations are now the go apparently, and police from the closed down outlying stations work from these larger ones, supposedly with more police cars on the street. That’s bollocks, there are less cops out there to tend to regular policing, and when the police hierarchy tell you different on television they are acting as spin doctors and they know it.

Why am I so pissed off about it all? Well, recently a good friend of mine had a bogan hit the back of his car as he was pulling out from the kerb. My mate was in the car at the time, and drove off after the bloke to get him to stop, wondering if the bloke actually realised he’d hit the car in front. When he catches the bogan’s attention the guy pulls over and my mate pulls up behind him.
The bogan then reverses into my mate’s car and hastily drives off. The rego number is taken and not long after a police car flagged down. The police take some details and say they will look into it.

A couple of weeks later he’s heard nothing so contacts the young police officer in charge of the case. He’s then told the other driver has been interviewed and says my mate ran into him, and has a witness to prove it. And to make matters worse my mate is told that if he wants the other driver to be charged for leaving a scene of an accident, among other offences, then my mate will be charged also. Of course, he’s then in a bit of a flap so I ask him some pertinent questions, like was the driver alone, where did he say the witness saw the offence etc.

So, it looks like the bogan had an ‘independent’ witness walking past at the time of the offence, but how he got this person’s details when he was busy driving away from the scene of the offence is beyond me. Some more time goes by with no information forthcoming from the police so he again contacts the young police officer in charge of the matter. When the officer is asked if said bogan has been charged the response almost beggars belief, with words to the effect of ‘I’m not sure, I’ll have to get back to you’.

My mate decides to cut his losses and moves on, and still hasn’t heard anything back from the police. It seems to me the young officer is most likely overweighed with outstanding matters to deal with and it’s gone into the too hard basket. I can’t really blame them, as there are so many more crosses to tick and “i’s” to dot than there were in my day.

And when there’s less police on the street you can imagine how the workload can back up.
But this goes to show a system which is blatantly out of kilter. When you can lose your licence for relatively minor traffic offences but you can get away with leaving the scene of an accident then something’s not quite right if you ask me. If you are driving dangerously or pissed you deserve everything you get but the scales of justice in this modern era are not evenly balanced.

Column by Chris Pickett

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