Licence checking

I know British Waterways is under pressure to ensure that we all pay our licence fees on time but I am wondering if they are in danger of creating a new monster in the form of the Enforcement Team and the data they collect.

BW Inspection Boat Verulam checking licences at Cowley
BW Inspection Boat Verulam checking licences at Cowley

Gone are the days of notebook and pencil, superceded of course by the portable computer, and details of all boats are carried by the Enforcement Officers so that any boat which causes a query can be quickly checked against the latest information on site.

However what concerns me is that each time a check is done, the date, time and location can all be recorded against the boat’s details, building a history of travel.

Now I don’t really have a problem with advertising where I am otherwise I wouldn’t write a blog on the subject but I do wonder exactly what British Waterways will be doing with all this information.

If the purpose is to enforce the continuous cruising regulations then logging should be restricted to those boats without a home mooring but I rather feel that everyone is tarred with the same brush on the towpath.  Continuous cruising regulations do not apply to boats like Zulu, which has a home mooring, and therefore why on earth do they still log the data and what are they going to do with it?

Licence inspection on the Middlewich Branch
Licence inspection on the Middlewich Branch

On Monday I got checked on the Middlewich Branch while having lunch. This is no isolated occasion either.
Here is a list of the date and time which I have been logged on either Zulu or my other boat, bearing in mind these are only the occasions where I was aware of the checking.

Monday 20 July 13:30 logged at Cholmondeston lock by foot patrol officer using hand held computer

Tuesday 14 July 12:30 logged at Cowley lock by uniformed officers in patrol boat who pulled up along side, typed my number into a computer and didn’t even acknowledge I was watching them three feet away from the side hatch.

Saturday 11 July 07:00 logged as we entered the canal at Brentford Lock by the duty lock keeper, using a piece of paper.

Thursday 11th June Zulu logged 50m from our moorings at Middlewich while filling the water tank, by a uniformed offical on a bicycle using hand held computer who did not acknowledge my greeting and rode off.

One Reply to “Licence checking”

  1. So much for escaping the database state! I too am happy to tell people where I am but – and it’s a big one – it’s MY choice. One day I might want to lie low for all sorts of reasons (none of them criminal). Who will BW be prepared to share this information with? Or to sell it to?

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