from the BECAUSE-WE-CAN?!? dept
We’re used to stories about asset forfeiture being abused to seize vehicles from citizens here in the US, with the vehicle/sales proceeds going directly to the bottom line of the agency seizing them. That encourages all sorts of abuse performed in the name of Drug Warring but, in reality, just creating a somewhat sustainable revenue source for the government.
At least in this context, seizures of vehicles make sense. Perverted incentives have created a demand for assets drug cartels just can’t deliver, so it’s up to average Americans — many of them not at all involved in international drug trade — to make up the difference. But what can you even make of this atrocity, performed by the Flintshire, Wales government? (via Jalopnik)
After having surgery, the car owner discovered Flintshire council had incorrectly classified his BMW 323 as abandoned and had it crushed.
An ombudsman report said there was no evidence the council tried to identify the owner, while the man whose car it was called it “utter ineptitude”.
The council must pay him £2,750 for his car and the time taken to resolve this.
A man, whose vehicle is worth at least seven times the amount offered by the council, left his vehicle parked in front of his residence while he went in for surgery. The vehicle was parked at the address it was registered to. Nonetheless, the government declared it abandoned and destroyed it. This all happened during the three days he was incapacitated.
The man reported his missing car to the police, who then uncovered the rest of the debacle. A council officer claimed a search of a vehicle registration database prior to the seizure/destruction came up empty-handed. As was pointed out by the ombudsman report noted above, there was no record of this search taking place. The car’s owner was also never given notice the vehicle was targeted by the council for removal. This was the conclusion drawn from the investigation:
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales Nick Bennett said: “This is as classic a case of maladministration as I have witnessed in four years of office.”
Which it is. But it’s more than that. It’s a government moving with impunity because no one will stop it. It’s a pointless display of power that resulted in the destruction of a citizen’s property. And beyond everything else, it’s a demonstration governments are willing to make mistakes but not amends. The amount offered to the car’s owner doesn’t cover the loss and this offer only appeared because the council shit the bed so thoroughly its insurer refused to cover the self-inflicted loss.
What message does this send to residents? Never park your vehicle anywhere for any length of time? Try not get hospitalized? The government has far more potential to harm than to help? The last one might be worth learning, but it’s not really a confidence builder. And it puts government incompetence at the same level as “acts of God” — unpredictable and unforeseeable but always painful for the victims.