Read this and weep!
A pensioner is returning home with his yearly purchase of tobacco. He does this every year, the same amount and approximately the same time of year. He's been stopped on previous occasions and interviewed and then allowed to proceed with his legally bought goods. He's never had any goods seized and has never fell foul with the authorities with anything in all his life ... and that includes parking tickets. He's never been on benefits and worked all his life until retirement.
This year his experience is somewhat different. He's stopped in the early morning hours by a female officer along with a senior officer. The pensioner is not well and actually has an angina attack. He asks if the interview can be suspended until a later date when he is feeling in better health. The officers say he can but he must leave his tobacco ... and his car!
He protests but they won't budge so reluctantly he goes through the interview and ends up with his tobacco seized and his car .... despite his bad health and previous history. Unfortunately he did not record the interview but he did refuse to sign the notebook, despite intimidation, because he just felt it was not correct to do so.
These officers even disregarded their own policy on seizing vehicles where it states the following extracts :-
When Restoration Should be Offered
Appendix A: Humanitarian Issues
1. Any humanitarian issues that may arise need to be addressed prior to considering what action may be required under any of the other appendices. This Appendix is intended to assist officers in identifying have the necessary expertise and experience and are able to consider all the relevant circumstances.
The vehicle has been significantly adapted for use by a disabled person and it is clear that they are unable to use public transport to get home; or
Where medication that is required to treat any condition that represents a serious threat to health if it is not administered, e.g. insulin, is at home.
The vehicle is used to transport seriously ill people to hospital for regular treatment (e.g. kidney dialysis) and no viable alternative transport is available in the person’s home town. (my highlights)
3. In such cases the vehicles should be restored free of charge"
Now read on from the pensioner himself :-
"I was then transported and dumped at Folkestone bus station. There are no direct routes re public transport to my home. I finally arrived home at approx 20.30 and by that time was quite seriously ill due to having no insulin since the previous evening.
For your information, l am registered disabled and suffer from the following :- angina (my heart is actually 65% dead. I'm also an insulin dependant diabetic and - if that's not enough - suffer with Chronic Renal Impairment and arthritis in my hips, toes and thumbs).
Or in medical terms :-
Anterior Myocardial Infarct
Left Ventricular Failure
NYHA class II Heart Failure
Type 2 Diabetes
Chronic Kidney Disease - Stage 3
Furthermore, l need the vehicle for constant visits to the doctor and you should be made aware that there are no direct bus routes from my home. Also l have to transport my partner due to her breaking both bones and tearing all the ligaments in her right leg.
So where is the proportionality and humanitarian grounds that are in their own procedures and policy regarding seized vehicles? These officers disregarded them all."
Is this really what our country has become? No, l'm not saying all officers are like this but there were others there! They, too me, are just as guilty. They allowed this to go on. These people would be the ones who would quite happily be guards at a concentration camp (if anyone dares to leave a comment quoting stupid Godwins hypothetical Law ... l'll delete it!)
Will these officers be reprimanded or held to account? Not a chance ... it's there word against the pensioners because they don't record the interview do they? Their notebook won't touch any of these issues. They'll probably say that the pensioner never mentioned his health and never had an angina attack.
Welcome to the integrity of the humanitarian Border Force! These 2 sicken me ... and the others who let it happen and continue to do so!
The truth of it is that it's wearing us down. We seem to be the only ones in the public domain concerned and the only ones fighting this. l'm tired and if l'm truthful l'm wore out. We turn away no-one and have never charged no-one but the workload is (has) becoming too big. The main cause of this is helping certain people out. We get their cases, print off the relevant documents from them, read them and then think of a course of action. We phone them or write to them, discuss it and then put together an appeal putting in all the research we can find. Then we forward it to them so they can put in the appeal and then we hear nothing! They don't respond to any communication and we've then wasted all that time and effort. lt's taken it's toll l'm afraid. There's only 2 of us after all.
Time for a rethink l believe before l burn out totally. Your thoughts and ideas would be appreciated.
l'm told that this recent tactic of HMRC sending out duty demands is an attempt to get more prosecutions because they've been asked by a Select Committee why they hardly have any prosecutions despite all the seizures? (approx 70,000 per annum). We know the answer of course, their 'evidence' would not stand up in a criminal court.
So they've come up with this. They send out these massive demands for duty BUT they ask you to come in for chat ... and give you a date and location. The upshot being "Tell us who's the Mr Big and the duty demand you got will go away"
Of course if the goods are for your own personal use they'll just assume you are a criminal who doesn't snitch. HMRC are really scraping the bottom of the barrel with this!
Oh, if you don't get a request to go in for a chat ... they obviously think you are Mr Big OR an innocent shopper who's just collateral damage :)
Persuading the passenger to go and leave his goods. Customs Officer goes on about how long the interview would take, large amount of goods blah blah. What he doesn't say is HMRC will send you a big duty bill and then call you in for an interview anyway! Sorry about the quality but if you turn volume up it should be ok.