May 28 2010 by Lisa Boyle, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
A DISABLED woman was humiliated when an obnoxious cop seized her mobility scooter in the middle of a packed Ayr High Street.
Mia Spalvieri watched in horror as the officer called a tow truck to take away her lifeline after she made the mistake of asking him for help.
The horrified 36-year-old was ordered to “disembark the vehicle” after she asked him for advice about the buggy.
The ill-informed cop wrongly assumed that it needed insurance and an MOT and ordered her to get off.
Mia was taken home in a police car. Her scooter – which has a top speed of six miles per hour – was uplifted by a recovery company and impounded.
When the cop’s mistake was discovered, Strathclyde police had to fork out £300 to get Mia’s scooter back.
Safety conscious Mia, who can only walk a short distance with the aid of two sticks, said: “I’m completely housebound without this buggy, he might as well have said ‘I’m taking your legs from you.’
“I asked this police officer for his assistance, I still can’t believe what happened to me. It was utterly humiliating.”
Mia bought the mobility scooter from Ayr Mobility Services in the Main Street and was assured it was completely safe.
When she spotted a police officer in town last Thursday, she took the opportunity to double check that the buggy was legal to use without insurance.
Mia continued: “He told me it was a road vehicle and that I should have registration plates, an MOT and insurance.
“Then he said I’m not allowed to go on the pavement or in shops with it.
“When I asked what was going to happen now, he said he was going to arrange for it be uplifted.
“The ironic thing is, I was hit by a car when I was younger and had serious injuries. That’s why I have problems with my mobility. You won’t get anyone more conscious of road safety than me.
“When he said he was taking it off me, I started crying. People were stopping in the street to have a look, it was just awful.”
And Mia was stunned at the arrogance of the officer’s parting words to her.
She explained: “He told me this would cause more hassle for him than it would for me because he’d get stick from the guys back at the office. I can’t walk but he felt the situation was worse for him.”
When Mia got home, she received a seizure notice through her door saying it would cost her £150 to get the scooter back.
The reason for the seizure is stated as: “Vehicle driven without licence and insurance.”
Hours later, the scooter was returned to Mia when police realised their mistake.
Mia said: “A Sergeant from Ayr police phoned me on Tuesday afternoon – after I had spoken with the Ayrshire Post – to apologise. But he said that he could see why the officer did what he did.”
Mia now intends to make a formal complaint to Strathclyde police.
Chief Superintendent Bill Fitzpatrick, the divisional commander for Ayrshire, said: “We are aware of the situation and have offered Ms Spalvieri a full and frank apology.
“We are currently looking into the circumstances of how this happened and if it’s found that an officer has taken inappropriate action then we will take swift action to ensure that such a situation does not happen again.”