AB 1 - Cover Up By Police Chief Or Oversight You Decide
The controversial sale of a historic car number plate will be examined by councillors following complaints from the public.
The West Mercia Police and Crime Panel will meet on Tuesday February 6 to discuss the sale of the AB1 number plate by the Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion to former Chief Constable Paul West last August.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said there was no indication of wrongdoing in relation to the sale of 'AB1' and decided against investigating the matter earlier this year, but a number of people have maintained pressure to have the matter investigated.
Former senior police officer Andy Parkes was among more than 800 people who signed a petition against the sale, and he then wrote to the panel asking it to investigate.
He doesn’t think the number plate – the first to be issued to any car in Worcestershire - should have been sold in the first place, and also thinks it was sold for too little.
Mr Parkes, who was a Superintendent in the West Mercia force, said: “That number plate is part of West Mercia Police heritage, and before that Worcestershire Police heritage dating back to the 1930s.
“It’s not something that should be sold.”
But if it was to be sold to fund policing then Mr Parkes thinks there was a duty to sell it for the highest price possible.
It was announced last August that former West Mercia Chief Constable Paul West – whose official car when he was in post would have carried the plate – bought the plate for £160,000, but Jon Cherry, the director of regplates.com, said he had a client who was interested in the plate and would have bid £250,000, although a spokesman for Mr Campion stressed that no such offer was ever lodged.
Mr Parkes said: “Complaints to the IOPC were dismissed, but I still think there are questions to be answered.”
Mr Campion said: “I recognise that this is an emotive subject for some and that those individuals are upset with the decision to sell AB1. I believe that the public support my drive to use the resources at my disposal, including an unused private number plate to support policing and keeping communities safe.”
The Police and Crime panel will meet at 11am at County Hall in Worcester on Tuesday February 6.
Also in the news
Ontario decided that vehicles needed licence plates in 1903, two years after New York became the first state to require such vehicle registration. The first went to department store heir John Craig Eaton of Toronto. His leather plate, with an aluminum number “1” riveted to it, cost him $2.00 and went on his Winton, a car made in Cleveland, Ohio. It was the first of 198 plates the province issued that year.
Edmonton also decided vehicles needed to be registered in 1903, and Joseph Morris was the first with his new Ford. However, he was merely assigned the number, and it was left up to him to display it. The story goes that when he got a ticket for not doing so, he claimed a broomstick he’d stuck upright in the car made the required numero uno. While no one’s sure if that actually happened, Morris did receive Alberta’s first provincially made licence plate nine years later.
Early licence plates were often made out of rubber or leather, with metal numbers on them. In 1911, Ontario made its plates out of porcelain, but they were easily broken, and the province went to steel plates the following year. When motorists still had to make their own plates, some mail-order companies sold do-it-yourself kits.
During the Second World War, metal was prioritized for the war effort, and some municipalities had to find something else to use for licences. A few states, primarily Illinois and Montana, used a cardboard-like material made from pressed soybean fibre. It worked well under most circumstances, but some rural motorists reported that their plates had been eaten by livestock.
Some licensing departments issued paper stickers that went on the windshield to indicate the plate had been renewed during the war years, since almost all of them issued brand-new plates each year. Others issued small metal renewal tags that were clipped to the old plates.
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