All hail the return of the gangster car. Or, more pertinently, the return of a Dover councillor’s accusation that the mayor of Dover, Neil Rix, would like to tool around his domain in “a big gangster car”.
Rix, if you recall, would like his Toyota Prius replaced by something larger and, ideally, grander: a Volvo S90, a Skoda Superb or a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. This isn’t the kind of vice that makes you a gangster in my book, but what do I know?
Anyway, none of those cars sounded very gangster to me. And, dear reader, neither do they to you. You may or may not be gangsters yourselves, but you have written in your droves. Well, dozens. Okay, tens. Well, look, a few of you emailed.
You suggest, among other things, that all gangsters are online these days anyway. You send a photograph, that I can never now unsee, of local grandees posing next to a Reliant Robin wearing Rolls-Royce badges. You propose that a new Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport might be more appropriate for today’s street- going criminal, what with it being a much larger vehicle than a Prius but available for very competitive lease hire rates. Most sinisterly, you note that scooters are the prime choice of many inner city renegades.
But none of these interests me as much as a note from <name redacted> of the <city redacted> police service. He’s no gangster, you understand, but he has come across, he says with some understatement, “one or two”.
Silly me – and silly councillor – for being concerned about flexible financing and PCP deals, because “they tend to prefer the stolen variety where possible”. Of course they do.
The reasons for these car choices are the same reasons you’d want one in civilian life. They are “comfy and carry plenty of bodies, cash, weapons”. Okay, not quite the same reasons you’d want one in law-abiding life, but you get the idea.
Trouble is, as my man in the know goes on to explain, “they are pretty much uncatchable. Our traffic cars – BMW 530d, 330d and X5 – are no match, let alone our mighty Peugeot 308 diesel response cars."
There is a serious edge to this. Last year, 28 people were killed during police pursuits. Although they were mostly those who put themselves in a chase, there is the fear that pursuits are lasting for longer because traffic police numbers in England and Wales have halved since 2000.
It is sensible that Highways Agency staff do the humdrum work following breakdowns and minor nerfs on motorways, but it has seemingly left traffic officers each covering a wider area. Which, the Police Federation believes, makes offenders think it’s worth making a dash for it because they’re more likely to get away.
So what do you do? Accept that chasing offenders is too risky and back off? I suspect that will only further encourage those who think it’s worth running, although surely there will always be criminals who simply must be caught now. Seems to me we need to have both sufficient numbers of officers trained to catch people and the vehicles with which to catch them.