An actor who was caught driving a fake police car with blue flashing lights and siren has been fined £100. Michael Allen, 35, was spotted in the modified Volvo – which was to be used in one of his films – by an off-duty officer in Northampton on May 11 this year.
A court heard the vehicle had police markings on the bonnet, rear window and rear bumper that were ‘crossed out’ with black tape. A real police officer took down the registration number because he believed ‘it was not being driven in a manner that would reflect well on the police force.
Allen was tracked down and when police searched his address they also found two ex-police fleeces, a police baton, a ballistic vest and some handcuffs.
In interview, he told officers he had bought the Volvo for £1,700 from the Gumtree website and had got the other equipment off eBay. Allen, of Northampton, admitted a charge of using a vehicle fitted with a blue beacon and one of using the same car fitted with a siren. He was fined £100 and ordered to pay £85, as well as a victim surcharge of £20 by Northampton Magistrates Court.
Defending, Paul Harkins said his client didn’t believe he was breaking the law because the lights could only be controlled from the boot, not the car’s dashboard. He said:
This case is very novel, very unusual. Cases like this don’t appear in court very often. Mr Allen ran a business called CMP Lighting solutions and one part of the business was to prepare vehicles to be used as props in films. He would concede this particular vehicle was prepared as an English police car.The ‘blues and twos’ could not be operated from within the vehicle but only from the boot.
A charge of making a statement suggesting he was a police constable was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service. Another two charges of driving without proper insurance and stealing a baton were also discontinued.
After the case, Allen slammed the decision to haul him before magistrates. He said:
‘It all seemed very petty to me. On the night I didn’t want to leave the car on its own on an industrial estate so I drove it home. I was told by other people in the industry that it would be compliant if the police markings were covered. They didn’t even know it had a siren until they arrested me.
‘I was hauled before a court at the cost of thousands to the taxpayer kept in custody for 14 hours and all for what in the end? A minor road traffic offence.
‘I would have made the alterations if they would have asked me, I’ve been done up like a kipper. It was a film prop. It wasn’t like I was driving around pulling people over or speeding along on blue lights to try and beat the traffic. I am not happy about the situation at all.’