Police have told Autoblog that the driver of a car that smashed into a parked vehicle cannot be prosecuted despite the whole incident being caught clearly on CCTV.
Krystyna Kozlowska left her car parked in Marlow, Bucks, only to return two hours later to discover it had been driven into and the offender had left the scene without leaving their details.
Her dismay soon turned to relief when she saw that CCTV cameras at an adjacent pub covered the area where the incident occurred. The helpful owners checked the footage and could see a silver car had reversed into her vehicle.
Kozlowska contacted the police and reported the incident but officers told her the footage could not be used because it had been "obtained illegally".
"They said they could do nothing as the footage was illegally obtained against the Data Protection Act," explained Kozlowska.
"Despite the fact that the camera is monitoring the outside of the pub's property and just happens to monitor the parking spaces as well, as they are in the background, this is apparently deemed to be illegal and therefore can not be used as evidence.
Kozlowska said officers likened the situation to them "breaking into a house and finding a stash of drugs there".
"It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," added Kozlowska. "More than anything else it is frustrating as the evidence is there but they are refusing to do anything with it."
A spokesman for Thames Valley Police confirmed that they could not do anything with the footage "because of issues with where the camera is sighted, under the Data Protection Act".
Motoring organisations contacted by Autoblog have slammed the police's stance.
"I'm sure the aggrieved party feels the law is an ass in this case and that's how it would seem to the majority of drivers," said a spokesman for The AA.
"Private CCTV cameras are dishing out hundreds of thousands of parking tickets to vehicle keepers traced through DVLA for parking 'offences' on private land yet when it comes to something more serious, some of this technology does not pass muster under the law.
"Not only could the person get away with not reimbursing the vehicle owner they will also get away with a criminal offence of 'failing to stop and give details' if this occurred on the public highway. The police must of course comply with or find a way through data protection law and we sense their frustration and that of the aggrieved party in cases like this."
The Association of British Drivers agreed with spokesman Brian MacDowall commenting: "It does seem ironic that the police, who argue ANPR cameras, which log 14m journeys a day by UK drivers, are an invaluable tool in fighting crime but are apparently powerless to assist a driver obtain recompense via CCTV cameras for a damaged vehicle. The law needs revising to help drivers in these sorts of cases."
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, added: "This seems a preposterous situation. One assumes that if the landlord had witnessed the event with his own eyes his evidence would have been perfectly acceptable.
"It is hard to see why the situation is different when a camera is involved. The only silver lining might be that Ms Kozlowska can pass the footage on to her insurance company and if the registration number is visible they can track down the other party."
What do you think? Should the law be changed to help drivers in these situations? Let us know by posting your comments below.