Letter to the editor: Traffic ‘cautions’ and ‘written warnings’

I was interested to read of the proposed issue of “cautions” by the police in less serious criminal cases and I was surprised that there was no mention of traffic offenses.

A long time ago I was an assistant superintendent of police in what was then the British Protectorate of Uganda in East Africa and, for the whole of 1956 (60 years ago!), I acted as chief traffic prosecutor in the traffic court of the capital city, Kampala.

We averaged 1,200 prosecutions monthly. Fortunately, many of them resulted in pleas of guilty, otherwise we would never have got through them.

In fact, there was a much greater number of traffic offenses committed and reported and we had a useful system of “written warnings” for listed minor traffic offenses. Each traffic constable was additionally trained and carried when on his beat a small bundle of printed slips in duplicate headed “Kampala Traffic Police Written Warning” which he could issue in specified offenses.

These were not summonses or convictions but, on return to the station, they would hand in the duplicate copies of any WWs that they had issued, which would go on the driver’s record so that, if there were repeats, then a prosecution might follow.

Perhaps a similar system could work here?

Incidentally, when examining witnesses of traffic accidents in court there would often arise some difficulty in describing how it all occurred. So in court I had a box containing a collection of small ‘Dinky’ vehicle toys, such as model cars, vans, lorries, buses and so on.

The relevant toy vehicles would be handed to the witness so that he could then put them on the flat table and demonstrate how he claimed that the accident had occurred. Most witnesses seemed to find it easier using the toys in this way and there was the occasional overenthusiastic smash up as they were brought together.

Sir Peter Allen


  1. This reminds me of an incident last week on Albert Panton St in George Town. There were 5 cruise ships in port so all the spaces in the taxi rank on Albert Panton St were empty. As it was a weekday and all other parking was full a lady had parked in one of the spaces whilst she had popped into a store. On her return she was confronted by a policeman who insisted on giving her a ticket. I asked him if he could not just have given her a warning, but he kept pointing to the sign indicating taxi parking only.Given all the circumstances I feel as I told him, that discretion should have been used as he well knew that these spaces would not be used by taxis that day. Surely a polite warning would have sufficed given the circumstances, rather than following the letter of the law and aggravating relations between the police and the public.

    • And where does discretion begin and end? Yes, the circumstances as you describe seem fair, albeit the lady must be capable of reading the sign. But how do you then distinguish between a policeman doing that, and letting a friend off, or his cousin? And how does the passerby who sees the policeman waive the law know which it is, and not affect his perception of the impartiality of the police, or whether he can do the same since the other guy got let off? Once you have selective enforcement o the law by the officer on the spot, you are on the road to hell.

  2. Sir. Allen I agree with your suggestion which is very good and should work in the Cayman Islands. If we had the same kind of people like you and you had 60 years ago . But the world and most people has changed , and we’re not living in that age today .
    If one can get payed for not working, why work .

  3. Mr. Dickson. Mr Davies

    I think that Sir Allan is talking about the Officers doing their job, and keeping a record of who he/she Officer warns . He is not talking about giving friends and family or anyone a break , he’s talking about officer doing their job with honesty and integrity, and having warnings system that worked for him 60 years ago and could work for Cayman Islands . IF .

    Then Mr. Davies , a road sign should be made to say , what purpose and the meaning of the sign.
    Like , taxi parking Monday through Thursday, , then if she parked there on Saturday , there is no need for the officer to even speak to her , because she has not violated the law or the sign , but if she parked there on Tuesday , Sir Allen said give her a warning and enter her information in the database, then next time she do it that information could be presented in court along with her .