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Iniquitas
Hello. This is my first post here, although I've already read parts of the website for research. I'd be very grateful for any help the members can provide as I fear I'm about a nats whisker away from having a criminal record for an offence I didn't commit, if I don't have one already!

First, I'll summarise my current situation then describe how it all happened.


Summary: I've just been, in essence, convicted of a criminal offence, then told by the police I won't be prosecuted and instead, given a verbal warning without the opportunity to make a statement or seeing any evidence. The police have also told me that they've handed my personal details to the "other parties" for them to sort it out!


How it happened: about a month ago I received an NIP listing the following charges.
  • Driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention
  • Failing to stop after an accident
  • Failing to report an accident
These charges relate to an alleged collision between my vehicle and a parked car which allegedly took place whilst I was performing a reversing manoeuvre. The incident is supposed to have taken place whilst I was performing a 3 point turn on a residential street.

First, there was no collision, so I was not driving without due care and attention.
Second, my sister, who was a passenger at the time, suggested that I might have got close to the parked vehicle, so after parking further up the road and not wishing to take the chance that I had unknowingly touched, we both got out and checked and found no damage = so no accident and no failing to stop.
Third, as there was no collision and no damage, there had therefore been no accident to report = so not guilty of failing to report.

Nevertheless, I got an NIP addressed to my mother, who owns the car I was driving. I filled in part 2 then received another NIP and filled in part 1. The first copy was received within 14 days of the date of the alleged incident. I completed both documents properly and both were signed, the first by my mother, the second by myself.

The NIP form does not contain any provision for adding a statement and I did not send a statement with it when I returned. Neither does the form include a police caution or anything else that would suggest that completing and returning the form would constitute an admission of guilt.

I heard nothing for a couple of weeks. Then I received a phone call from a person who identified themselves by their name and said they were from my local police station, but did not give a police rank or number. This person told me that he was calling to discuss my collision with two cars and when I questioned this, explained that I had hit the first parked car which had then shunted into another parked car and that there were, as a result, two owners involved.

I immediately noted his tone and language. He was talking as though I had already confessed or had already been convicted of this offence!

I just let him carry on, taking notes as he talked.

He then informed me that the police had decided to take no further action. He said the reasons for this were that the insurance companies and the owners didn't want to take me to court. He told me I was very "lucky".

He then said that the police had passed my name and address to the owners for them to make an insurance claim if they wished!


He then went on to give me a stern telling off about having accidents and not reporting them and said that if the police had decided to prosecute, it would have resulted in losing my licence and a criminal record. He then said that if anything happened again in the future, anything... he emphasised, that I would not be so lucky and that I would be "immediately" prosecuted and that I "would" lose my license.

He then told me that I should consider that I've had a verbal warning!


My Reaction:

Unprintable, for a start!

First, I've just been convicted of a criminal offence, even though I haven't been prosecuted! And I've been convicted without the opportunity to make a statement of any kind.

Second, my personal details have been passed to some unknown individuals.

Third, I have seen no evidence to support the accusation that I caused damage to two cars.

Fourth, I probably now have some kind of police record.


My initial thoughts on how to proceed:

I think I have to jump all over this as soon as possible. I also don't want the insurance paying out for damage I haven't caused. I am not guilty and don't deserve to have a criminal record. I have never... never in my entire driving career of more than 12 years... been involved in any accidents.

I think I need legal representation. I am currently unemployed so am wondering whether I might be entitled to any help. I'm also going to check whether I can get anything under the house insurance. I have already spoken to the RAC legal aid people for advice when I received the first NIP, but don't know how much more assistance I might be able to get from them as I am not a member myself (I don't own a car). The membership belongs to my mother.

I'm already thinking about letters to the Chief Constable, the Police Complaints Authority, the Home Office and my MP.

This whole thing stinks. If the police thought they could win, why don't they just go ahead and prosecute and add me to this months statistics? Why let me off with a warning? Is it because they think they'd lose?

And as for the owners, the whole thing smells dodgy. Two cars? One shunting into the other? Was the handbrake broken? That's the only way I can imagine this happening even if I had hit (which I didn't). And the speed at which I was manoeuvring was in no way at all sufficient to shunt one parked car into another if I had made contact.


So, what's my best move?

Thanks up front for any help.
southpaw82
QUOTE
First, I've just been convicted of a criminal offence


No, you haven't.

QUOTE
Second, my personal details have been passed to some unknown individuals.


In accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, s. 35.

QUOTE
Fourth, I probably now have some kind of police record.


Possible but unlikely.

QUOTE
I am not guilty and don't deserve to have a criminal record


That's good because you don't have one.

As to the insurance, that's a civil matter between you and the respective insurers - your own insurer should sort this for you.
Iniquitas
Hi, thanks for responding.

When I say I've been convicted, I mean in the philosophical sense, not the literal. I refer to the fact that the police are using terms of reference like "the cars you collided with", i.e. statements of fact which from my perspective, have yet to be proven. For semantics sake, change "convicted" to "found guilty" and it says the same thing, or rather, expresses the same feelings.

With reference to the Data Protection Act 1998, s. 35. I've looked it up but am no lawyer. Can someone explain how this gives the police the right to give out my personal details in a situation such as this?

If I do in fact have a criminal record, how do I find out?

With reference to the comment on it being a civil matter, obviously it would have become such in the instance that I was prosecuted and found guilty, but I maintain my innocence and have not had a means to state my case! The police have already washed their hands of this having decided I'm guilty! How are the police not acting as both judge and jury?

Sorry if some of these questions appear simplistic or if I appear to be ignorant. Like I said, unblemished record, so never needed to know before.

Thanks for your help.
andy_foster
If you prefer to believe that you have been convicted or found guilty when you clearly haven't, and despite being told that by Southpaw, be my guest.

Did you have a serious question regarding an ongoing motoring case, or did you merely want to have a bit of a rant?
southpaw82
The police will have passed on your details to the parties in order that they may lodge a claim. Section 35 allows this as disclosure for the purposes of prospective legal proceedings. You do not have a criminal record, at least as a result of this incident. Whilst you may feel aggrieved at the words used by the person from the police station you have not been prosecuted or convicted of any offence. Consequently, any insurance claim is a civil matter and not a criminal one.
Iniquitas
Southpaw, thank you for the clarification and your assistance. It helped to have it stated clearly. I'm obviously not clear on the distinction between civil and criminal cases, like where one starts and another stops.

Andy, if any part of my comments appeared to sacrifice the facts in favour of "a rant" then that was unfortunate. I was trying to express my concern and to explore the possible consequences of the situation as I understood it at the time.

The manner in which the person (don't know if it was a member of the police or not) expressed themselves strongly suggested that I had a criminal record as a direct result of these allegations, so perhaps the fault lies with the inability of police employees to express themselves clearly to legal ignoramuses?

Anyway, thanks again for clearing that up as I would probably never have discovered that section of the data protection act unaided.
Pete D
Have you informed your insurance company and does the policy have legal cover. When you first heard of this did you have the car inspected and reported on by a reputable body shop for evidence of damage. Pete D
2020Hindsight
I would surmise/guess from what you have described is that the owner of car A came back to find car B was touching/collided with them, which may have caused some damage.
Your details have then been given by a witness as having hit car B or "come very close" and therefore possibly shunted it along in to A.

From the point of view of the witness you can see why they may have thought you had driven off after a collision because they saw you get and look for damage on your car and the one next to you, before leaving. They therefore may have given a very convincing statement to the police that you did drive off. The alleged damage could easily have been entirely invisible to you as it was on another car!

And I hate to suggest it, but isn't the purpose of a telling off to leave you feeling told off?
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