OK, so we're not *all* crooks. . .

Last week we climbed onto our high horses and defended ourselves - and you - against claims made by the Assistant Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police. Specifically, we wanted to dispute his claim that one in four bikers stopped for speeding had a criminal record.

Our issue was simple. After doing some homework we showed that, in fact, nearly one in four of the adult population has a criminal record. More if you look at men alone. So why didn't Mr Collins mention that instea dof demonising motorcyclists? We invited a response and undertook to print it, unedited, when it arrived.

We didn't get a written response from North Yorkshire Police. We got something far better - Mr Collins got on the phone himself and spent the best part of an hour explaining himself, his policies and his statement.

The big surprise, and it shouldn't have been really because we have spoken before, is that Mr Collins is not a rabid anti-bike loony. Far from it. Though he readily admits that he isn't a biker himself he has many friends and colleagues who are bikers and sees the attraction.

So first of all we talked about speed in general and the current policies. He argues, and it's hard to disagree, that with a 50% casualty reduction since the get tough policy started it's clearly working. But he also accepts that there is a need to look at all the factors - traffic volumes, weather and so on - before hailing it as a huge victory. He then went on to say that even though the reduction is good news, 12 people still lost their lives and he finds it difficult to celebrate knowing that. Fair enough - he obviously cares passionately about what he is trying to achieve and we can't really criticise that.

Then we talked about That Statistic. He stood by the claim that one in for motorists stopped for extreme speeding had criminal records. We reminded him that his statement actually only mentioned motorcyclists. And his response? "No, that's wrong and misleading." He went on to say that motorcyclists are no worse than any other group stopped and took our attack in the spirit that it was meant - as a defence of motorcyclists and not necessarily as an attack on his policies.

But then things got very interesting indeed, because we started to look at the facts around the criminal record thing. And while we may all roll our eyes and grumble about the Police having better things to do than chase speeding bikers, the fact is that while this has been going on other crimes - burglaries and the like have gone down while clearup rates have improved. Because the villains are getting nicked for speeding and their cars are getting looked over and lo and behold what's this video doing in the back, sir?

More drink drivers, more disqualified drivers and more uninsured drivers are getting nicked and taken off the road. And that's got to be good for all of us. I don't have the exact percentages but they were impressive.

I understand that North Yorkshire Police use the National Intelligence Model to target their resources. That's basically a huge database of known criminals, vehicles, habits, methods and so on, and the more data that goes in the more accurately resources can be targetted. Mr Collins still maintains that people who really take the proverbial with speeding are the same people who park in disabled bays and block box junctions because on the road they just don't care about anyone else. And a significant proportion of them, it seems, did a bit of petty thievery at school and have since made it either an income booster or a career choice. Right now it looks as though he may be right, too.

Mr Collins is a man on a mission. He wants people to think about what they do and to make his officers ring fewer doorbells to say that someone isn't coming home. If he says things that are controversial, outrageous even, he's achieving that goal to some extent. So you don't have to like what he says, but ignoring him would be a mistake. He's man enough to admit that he was wrong on the occasions that he is, and that deserves credit. But even though he was factually incorrect, it's generated a lot of column inches and provoked a lot of discussion.

So maybe he's not so daft after all?

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