When parked police car is an empty threat to drivers

As a frequent user of the A7 road, I have seen many techniques by the police to curb speeding – mobile camera vans, hand-held speed guns and so on – but Lothian and Borders’ latest innovation perplexes me.

I am referring to their abandoning a police car in a lay-by at the side of the road. On quite a few occasions – and not just on the A7 – I have noticed police cars left at accident black spots for up to a week with the sole intention of slowing speeding drivers down. These cars have varied from normal patrol cars to high speed traffic division vehicles.

I have no doubt that this idea causes speeding motorists to slow down – at least until they cotton on that the police car hasn’t budged an inch in five days – but the concept puzzles me.

As a taxpayer, I am wondering who in Lothian and Borders finest came up with the idea of ordering an officer to drive a Volvo V70 estate – starting price £26,000 – to a lay-by on the A7, park it up, lock it, jump into another car and pick it up five days later. Surely this has to be one of the most expensive speed prevention measures ever? Why isn’t this vehicle being used for what it was meant for – crime prevention?

I would like to know if the use of this tactic is a result of police staffing issues – not having enough officers to drive the vehicles – or of government austerity measures. Are these vehicles no longer suitable for service? I keep wondering how long it will take for someone to slap a “Taxpayer Aware” sticker on one of these vehicles.

Using a £20,000-plus Volvo to slow a few cars down sounds a little over the top to me, especially since a £20 high visibility jacket hung on a sign post at the A7 “Dug Inn” bend at Middleton produces the same results.

What’s next? Will horses be deployed at football games without a rider and saddle? Just leave it in a corner outside the stadium and hope that it deters fans from rioting.

What about mobile camera unit vans with all the police markings on the outside but without a camera on the inside, just a nice little man in a white coat selling ice cream from a hatch at the side?

It would give a whole new meaning to “police cone”.

Michael Boyle