Friday, December 08, 2006

Stretching credibility

Here's a rant on something else, but on-topic in a philosophical sense. Police in England have said many stretched limousines - of the type you see ferrying poor underprivileged tile-hoppers on a Friday night - are a front for money laundering and organised crime.

As I understand it, money laundering is where gangstas have a legitimate business which has its revenue mainly in cash form, then they mix in varying amounts of cash received from non-legit sources and declare it for tax. For example, there's a dodgy-looking hairdresser near my house who's never had more than two customers a week, and I'd love to see his tax return.

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is the BBC news article proclaiming all this. It informs us dutifully that some senior police bod reckons hoods are turning to the stretch limo business. His opinion. No evidence offered. New paragraph. "Some of the limousines were also found to be unsafe". Ah, the old emotional lever, but again without any substantiation.

Then comes the cruncher. "We have seen, on a number of occasions", continues Genghis Plod, "some pretty unsavoury people driving or inside these vehicles who wouldn't normally be in a position where they'd be able to be with young children in party situations".

Who? Where? How many times? And what, apart from a 1kg bag of Silver Spoon, constitutes unsavoury? I am, I admit, fairly generously proportioned. But it doesn't mean I eat doughnuts all day. I have known some people who, to put it kindly, were standing behind the door when God was dishing out beauty. It doesn't mean they don't have fantastic personalities.

Mr Plod may well be right. Society as we know it may indeed be on the brink of ruin because some cars are longer than others. What riles me about this is the cynical way the BBC can publish a 'news' article stating nothing other than the prejudice of some copper and knowing that three quarters of the population will not notice the complete lack of evidence, fall for his diatribe and get swept along in a wave of support for the police who are risking life and limb to protect us all from nasty white cars.

I would hope that, in modern Ulster, we're one step ahead of them. That we can see through prejudice and that we're politicised enough to look for the facts underlying every report so we can draw our own conclusions. A newsflow purely made up of someone else's conclusions is the stuff of dictatorships.

Wherever you're off to tonight, have a good time - and take the bus.


At 10:26 a.m., Anonymous aileen said...

Can you substanciate the claim that this is just based on the "prejudice" of some copper?

I'm not sure what the link between unsavoury and beauty or lack of it. Unsavoury in terms of being in a position "to drive young people in party situations" would be those who would show up in CRB checks. There have been similar reports of unliscenced taxi drivers with rape convictions. That's unsavoury

It does no harm for people to realise that these drivers are not subject to CRB checks.

"A newsflow purely made up of someone else's conclusions is the stuff of dictatorships."

"Forty-seven stretch limousines were stopped in a two-day operation on 17 and 18 November, the Met Police said.

Eight vehicles with "serious defects" were taken off the road in west London. "

"The motoring offences the 20 drivers were reported for included driving without a licence, insurance and MoT, and with a variety of vehicle defects."

Factual and worrying stuff.

"Chief Supt Geraint Anwyl, chairman of the National Roads Policing Intelligence Forum - which led the operation - said: "Our concerns are that with every passing day the possibility of these vehicles falling apart increases significantly. " It appears to be an intellignece led initiative.
I am clearly missing something John but I don't understand where you think the prejudice is?

At 12:32 p.m., Blogger B.U. said...

Aha, the naughty BBC has updated the page since I posted on it. When I saw it there were none of thse details. Manybe the BBC is among my silent readers? ;-)

At 4:04 p.m., Anonymous aileen said...


the power! ;o)

does that explain your commenst about unsavoury i.e. that you thought that they were actually judging from facial features as the limo sped by?

At 11:04 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot comment on the English police allegations in respect of limos but have recently looked into the operation of the stretch limo business in NI. I did not examine the criminal involvement as I would not know where to start but I can tell you that all these vehicle fall under taxi legislation for which the driver must hold a PSV Licence or depending on the seat number a bus licence. Secondly the vehicle must have passed a PSV test. The DVLNI informed me that a scam was being run to circumvent the taxi/bus licence for the driver that is you hire the vehicle you have no licence to drive such a car they supply the driver hey presto its not a taxi it’s a hire car. All sound fairly good. Unfortunately not, as mentioned all vehicle must pass a PSV test, presently in NI left hand drive vehicle cannot pass a PSV so none of them have the proper insurance to be on the road. Bottom line is according to the DVLNI people there are so many loop holes. The owners of the vehicles or most of them anyway have insured the cars but if an accident occurs and claims are lodged then the insurance companies will doubtless rescind the cover what’s worse most if not all the owners know this. So maybe the English plod is not so far of the mark after all.

At 3:05 p.m., Anonymous limo hire said...

It's true, in general Limos are owned by wealthy people but in many cases governments, big companies and broadcasters to convey their top level politicians, executives and guests respectively also own it. These cars are believed or observed as symbols of wealth.
And as sometimes wealth comes illegally, limos can serve as money laundering and other things.

At 7:58 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a load of crap, There is absolutely nothing wrong with American Limousines travelling the roads of Northern Ireland, I can assure you all that Limousines are not driven about in the early morning at speeds of up to 100 mph like a lot of the so called Taxis that no-one moans about, "I should know as i am a Taxi driver" We work so long hours that we are falling asleep at the wheel and we are all so hungry for the pound that we drive like the hammers to get as much money as we can PUTTING OUR PASSENGERS LIVES AT RISK so stop moaning about Limos, I for one would feel a lot safer in a Limo than a Taxi (Left hand drive or not) and there is a lot of gansters in the taxi trade!


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