I did a piece yesterday about a traffic warden who “ordered” a driver to delete photographs which he took of her. The source of that was an Oxford Times Online story which has since attracted some comments.
One is a useful note about precedents for such heavy-handed reactions, making it clear that policemen and their kind have no right to prevent photography or order deletion of photographs which have been taken. There are qualifications – private landowners or private functions can make their own rules, the police may have the right to keep everyone away from a major incident, celebrities may be able to bar publication in certain circumstances, organisations are restricted in respect of the personal data they can keep, there might be protection from extreme harassment, and there are probably certain defence installations where photographs are expressly prohibited by law.
But none of that applies to a public servant performing public duties in a public place. This woman apparently drives a Renault Scenic and I will happily publish any photographs which come my way of her inflicting misery on drivers.
Is that fair? you ask. She is, after all, only doing her job and Oxford would grind to a halt if everyone parked wherever they liked. Oxfordshire County Council repeatedly stress that enforcement is aimed only at safety and at keeping the traffic flowing. It follows that if neither of those considerations applies – a car briefly parked out of the way whilst you take your aged mother-in-law into church, for example (the incident which gave me my unbending hatred of enforcement for the sake of it) – is an excessive and unnecessary use of powers.
These people choose to take up this occupation. They are hated because they do not distinguish between one circumstance and another. That hatred is not entirely personal – even this government, insensitive as it is to public opinion, is concerned at the backlash which constant oppression of the motorist brings. That feeling of oppression is largely intangible – the general feeling that we are subject to an ever-rising tide of supervision and control – but traffic wardens are one of the most obvious daily reminders of it. We can do our bit to keep the bastards under control by capturing them at their work when they exceed their function.