Thursday, 26 March 2015

Canal and River Trust extends policy of not trusting its boating customers

I have frequently said that CRT stands for Can't Really Trust'em

It seems the feeling is mutual. CRT don't trust the boaters either as reflected not only in the latest moves on Continuous Cruising but also in the parallel terms and conditions changes for boaters with home moorings.

According to CRT, from now on, whenever you move your boat, you have to gather enough evidence to prove to them that you are moving and show how far. If you fail to have such evidence available when challenged you could ultimately have your licence removed.

It's a sad state of affairs that CRT's relationship with it's boating customers has descended to the point where we are all suspect, where we all have to worry about proving that we are not liars, when we are almost routinely assumed guilty unless we prove otherwise every time we move our boats? No wonder that trust between boaters and CRT is all but dead.

Has anyone stood back long enough to think how completely mad this all is?

Of course CRT seem reluctant to say what is adequate in terms record keeping for these purposes. Nor does their FOI officer seem to know about the Data Protection Act when it come either to requesting access to sighting records or how to challenge records that a boater thinks are inaccurate. It seems there is no written policy governing these important details.

A few years ago there was a slightly tongue in check suggestion made that whenever out boating you should look out for CRT staff and require them to sign a receipt to prove you were there.

How much detail is necessary to confirm that a boat is where it is?

Another suggestion was making GPS mandatory in all boats but of course some wicked people might remove the GPS from the boat take it somewhere else by foot to foil the system.

Photos of your boat are apparently not acceptable to CRT and neither is keeping a blog or other social media as it can all be faked.

You might need to go to a commissioner for oaths and swear an affidavit to say that you really where there at the time you say you were.

Even if you do try to keep a record you may still be in trouble with CRT.

On one Facebook post a boater reports that CRT won't disclose their boat sightings to the boater unless the boater first provides their records. Not sure that there's anything about that in the Data Protection Act?

And of course CRT's records of boat movements are notoriously unreliable, with various reports appearing on social media that CRT have failed to record extensive cruising ranges, in a few cases half way across the country. A not untypical comment off Facebook: "Having just received my log data for Cart this morning for the last 2 years there,s large holes in it, a whole month spent of the Huddersfield narrow for one and half the 4 counties ring How can they use this data to refuse a boat licence when its such a farce !!!!!!!"

Another boater claims to have been refused an annual licence renewal despite having covered a range of 176 miles in a year.

There is also it seems no agreed method by which a boater can challenge or correct inaccurate or incorrect data if and when you do get to see the CRT records. (I suggest this is a prima facie breach of Principle 4 in the Data Protection Act.)

Having created this impossible situation for the approximately one fifth of boats (those registered as Continuous Cruisers), CRT have in turn elected to try applying the same already ridiculous and all but unenforceable regime to the other four fifths of boaters on the network whenever they move.

I suppose that's one way to address the accusation that they do not treat continuous cruisers equally: start treating every licence holder as equally untrustworthy.

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