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Minor traffic accidents 'waste police time'

The Local · 14 Aug 2012, 08:20

Published: 14 Aug 2012 08:20 GMT+02:00

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“We have additional personnel needs from the new forms of criminality. We have to drop some tasks,” said Hubert Wimber, president of the Münster police.

“We are clarifying the situation for insurance companies and it regularly requires two colleagues and costs them one to one-and-a-half hours of time,” he said in an interview with the west German WAZ media group.

Calls to minor accidents where the worst damage is a dent or scratch takes up around a third of all police time, he said, calling for them to no longer be the business of police officers.

Accompanying special transports or extra wide loads should also no longer be a job for cops, Wimber said. He said specialist private firms could easily take over such tasks.

But Wimber’s suggestions were firmly rejected by both police unions.

“The recording of road traffic accidents must remain in the hands of the police, even when they are accidents involving only minor damage,” said DPolG police union chairman Rainer Wendt.

And Frank Richter, head of the North Rhine-Westphalia GdP police union said, “Citizens have a right that circumstances surrounding an accident are established and recorded by a neutral party.”

He told the Bild newspaper that those involved may not be able to act rationally following an accident, while if police were absent, crimes such as drink driving or deliberate provocation might go undiscovered.

European motoring association Auto Club Europa (ACE) warned of an, “enormous loss in trust for the police,” if Wimber’s suggestions were enacted. Having police records of even minor accidents prevents insurance fraud, he said. “The police must be involved here and cannot simply reject their duties,” said ACE legal representative Volker Lempp.

But Germany’s motoring association, the ADAC, said it was open to the idea. Spokeswoman Katharina Bauer told the Bild newspaper, “The ADAC also does not consider it necessary that the police should come to every minor damage situation, for example, when one car hits off the mirror of another. But it is for the law makers to regulate when a situation can do without the police and how the damage can be established.”

Story continues below…

North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Ralf Jäger rejected the withdrawal of police from minor traffic accident duties – but did agree that special transports, “could be accompanied by specially qualified private companies.”

DAPD/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:43 August 14, 2012 by lucksi
I assume the police will also stop handing out false parking tickets and speeding tickets, right? That is also a waste of their time.
10:56 August 14, 2012 by DoubleDTown
maybe they can then stop investigating spray paint vandalism and bicycle theft and whatever else they consider a "waste of time". this is silly. keeping order is what government is for. if people are bumping into each other, the government needs to be willing to step in and hold the responsible party responsible -- otherwise people are going to start doing it on their own and that's not desirable.
10:56 August 14, 2012 by SmittyBoy
The ONLY reason for police involvement in minor (no bodily injury) is for insurance purposes anyway. This being the case, the police could simply refuse to attend non-injury accidents, and let the insurance company send a representative, then we'd see how necessary these accident reports really are.
13:34 August 14, 2012 by michael4096
If the police are not involved, there will be many more insurance disputes but whether that is a good reason for spending money on police services is question. I guess that if I am the one the one that gets away with causing an accident then my feelings would be different to being the one unjustly penalised. Whichever, it will translate to higher insurance premiums.

@lucksi - I didn't know the police were responsible for handing out false parking tickets
20:19 August 14, 2012 by coffeelover
In the insurance industry there are collisions, and acts-of-god, Accident is a four letter word not found in their lexicon. Someone is ALWAYS at fault, or responsible for the collision, or irresponsible driver causing the collision. For this reason the police need to at least file an abbreviated report noting fault, or no-fault for low property damage with no injuries. If no trained, professional "observer" is part of an insurance claim, companies will fight each other for years not really caring if you have a car for transport or not, they want someone else to pay the damage.
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