Should police zig-zag parkers be excused?
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
POLICE chiefs have explained why two officers stopped their vehicle on zig-zag lines and enjoyed a hot drink bought from a nearby shop – an action that would normally result in a fine.
Several residents have complained after they spotted the patrol car on the puffin crossing in the centre of Barnard Castle, opposite Greggs bakery. The car was parked on zig zags painted a year ago with the intention of stopping vehicles parking close to the crossing. In their defence, police bosses say the two officers had been involved in a major rescue in upper Teesdale earlier that day and were soaked through. They bought hot drinks to warm up, a spokeswoman said.
The officers had returned from the operation on Sunday, March 1, to rescue a party of eight 4x4 off-roaders who had been stranded between Harwood and St John’s Chapel in harsh conditions.
A Durham Constabulary spokeswoman said: “While in Barnard Castle, the officers noticed a potentially suspicious vehicle, the driver of which was spotted outside Greggs.
“The officers made the decision to stop their vehicle so they could make enquiries with the man as quickly as possible. After completing their enquiries, the officers bought a hot drink, as they had been soaked through from the rescue.
“The officers now recognise that they should have moved the vehicle before purchasing the hot drinks and have been spoken to.
“We appreciate we do not get it right in every instance, but our officers are human and are taking learning points forward.”
However, the actions are still causing anger.
Resident Dorothy Brenkley said: “It [the car] was patently not on police business but had stopped so the occupants could buy and eat a snack bought across the road. My passenger took a photo on her phone as I was waiting for the crossing lights to change.
“Had a member of the public chosen to stop here, they could have been fined £100 and received three penalty points.
“Part of the College of Policing Guidelines which relates to this states: ‘Care and attention to parking restrictions should be observed and complied with... There can be no legitimate excuse for ignoring restrictions unless it can be justified. Inconsiderate or illegal parking of police vehicles may result in negative press reporting and may adversely affect public perceptions’. Quite so.”
Mrs Brenkley, who complained to Durham Police, said the matter had been recorded as a “sign of dissatisfaction” after the official explanation was provided.
Another resident Paul Hardy said: “Looks like there is one rule for some and another for Joe Public – not even an emergency; just picking
up a coffee from Costa maybe.”