A relative of mine recently changed their number plate at the same time as exchanging cars. Due to problems along the way they had two cars with identical number plates. Garages are not that efficient and the DVLA is horrendously crap at doing anything reasonably simple. Having duplicate number pates is an illegal act with a £1000 fine. But is it really illegal when they haven’t done it deliberately to perform some nefarious act. It’s all down to the cock ups by the garage and DVLA. They are many other times when something is technically illegal but in the wider context it was due to some other action and not deliberate. Are such actions illegal then?
Now they were lucky because they could keep their cars off the road whilst the number plate issue was sorted out. But what if they only had off road parking? If some jobs-worth police-person (or Civil Enforcement Officer) came along they could quite rightly charge my relative for committing a criminal act and they would end up in court with a fine a large fine. But would they be morally right to do this? A proper local policeman who knew the area and the people would not so much turn a blind eye but ask about the situation (and not in the officious voice that they use) to understand the problem and then monitor it.
Near where I live is a market town and when the traders are packing/unpacking they park on the main thoroughfare road on double yellows. There is no sign to indicate loading/unloading is allowed but they aren’t nabbed by CEOs. In fact I don’t think there is any sign. That’s because there is no other place to perform the operation and there would be a great uproar if they did get slapped with fines. So this operation which takes 10 minutes is allowed. Is this civil disobedience or just a fact that life is not black and white and that sometimes you can’t help but commit a criminal act to just get through they day. Especially when there are hundreds if not thousands of laws which affect your daily life but which you don’t know exist. Especially when many laws and rules and regulations are defined to the nth degree with no concept of the greyness of life.
The police already ignore some criminal acts when they need to make use of a witness for a more serious crime which is for the public good or when they have particular targets set by their chief inspectors. It could be argued that the ignoring of minor offences by the generally law abiding should also be done as it for the public good to have some confidence in the police that they aren’t being petty, vindictive, tick boxing, target seeking, officious jobs-worths.
To allow this the police needs some autonomy in deciding whether or not they should take the issue higher up the chain or handle it themselves. Currently everything is done on targets which does not allow this as it forces the police to report everything they do to their management.