A new system is in place to tackle a kind of corruption that isn’t so much endemic as universal.
This article has been updated below with details of the new complaints procedure.
Bribing a traffic policeman was a highlight of our recent drive through Bulgaria.
We were definitely speeding, though not quite as much as the radar gun made out. Anyway, he plucked the two €10 notes out of my wallet with a comically deft manoeuvre and our business was concluded with a handshake. Needless to say, we didn’t break the main road 90kmh speed limit for the rest of our time in the country (you can hit 140kmh – 87mph – on the motorways).
Ours was not an isolated case. In a 2011 covert investigation, the only traffic unit out of sixty that didn’t take bribes was the one involved in the operation. Clearly, something had to be done.
Yesterday, the Interior Ministry announced measures designed to cut down on the opportunities for bribery.
From now on, a vehicle can only be stopped if it is being driven recklessly, on suspicion of DUI, for dangerously transporting hazardous materials or if there is evidence of it being involved in an accident or crime. In time, speeding offences will be taken care of by post.
Police cars will be tracked by GPS. If a vehicle is stopped, the details have to be radioed in.
It might not sound like a fool proof system, especially where police have shown themselves to be adept at fiddling equipment. But the ministry says this is the first time in recent years that any attempt has been made to tackle corrupt traffic police. If it doesn’t work they will start looking further up the chain.
Specify the date, time and place, the circumstances, and the details of the team that stopped you: the police number (painted on the bonnet of the patrol car), the vehicle registration number, and the names and/or numbers of the traffic police.