Police in Lincolnshire have apologised after a “bit of banter” tweet highlighting a filthy squad car went viral.
Skegness man Stephen McGowan, 42, tweeted to the official Lincolnshire Police account on Friday to ask if he could be pulled over if his number plate was unreadable because of mud.
After receiving confirmation that he could, Mr McGowan posted a photo of a filthy police car with a rear number plate completely obscured by dirt.
“Oh dear, that’s what I thought,” he wrote alongside the picture he said was taken at Tesco in Skegness.
“I would give you the registration number but…”
His tweet had been liked more than three-and-a-half thousand times by Sunday afternoon.
“It was intended as a bit of banter but I also wanted them to be aware,” Mr McGowan told the Press Association.
“I was expecting a tweet saying something along the lines of ‘thanks for bringing it to our attention, we will get it sorted’ [as] I know the Lincolnshire roads can be muddy, dirty this time of year. But all they did was like the tweet.”
Chief Inspector Phil Vickers responded on Saturday morning, however, apologising for the delay and saying Mr McGowan was “absolutely correct” that police should not be using a car whose number plate was obscured.
“Cars are checked/washed at start of shift unless an urgent call comes in, same at the end of duties,” he wrote.
“Please accept my apology for this error.”
Members of the public can be fined for such an infraction if driving on a public road, CI Vickers added, and the picture showed police “fell below the standards we set for ourselves”.
Mr McGowan said he would like to thank Mr Vickers for his “openness and honesty”.
He said: “He seems to have a bit of criticism about wasting time on this matter, but as a member of the public I think it’s important that if you bring something to their attention, no matter how trivial it may seem, that you respond to that issue and his response was open and honest.”
Mr McGowan said he would “absolutely not, never” be making a formal complaint.
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