Pensioner, 69, branded hate criminal for beeping horn at another car

‘For me to be called a racist is horrible’: Pensioner tells of hate crime ordeal after she was quizzed by police for ‘beeping her horn at a slow motorist who happened to be black’

  • Jane Savidge was questioned after incident in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire 
  • She beeped her horn at driver in petrol station but it was considered a hate crime
  • 69-year-old said she has trouble sleeping after incident and quit her charity work

Anthony Stansfeld, the police commissioner for Thames Valley, has called for a review of hate crime laws after the incident

An elderly woman investigated on suspicion of a hate crime after beeping her horn at another car said she has trouble sleeping at night following the experience. 

Last week, Jane Savidge, 69, went public to say she was the person who’d honked her horn when a driver ‘took ages’ and blocked her car at a petrol station in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, in May 2015. 

The driver she tooted at happened to be black, and Thames Valley Police were forced to quiz the pensioner under current current hate crime laws.

‘I pulled in behind a car that had finished pumping. As the driver was in the car I had no idea of the sex, age, race or religion of the person,’ Ms Savidge told The Sunday Times.

‘I filled my car and the car in front had still not moved. I eventually tooted my horn. There was no response, so I tooted again.’

Ms Savidge said the incident led her to stop doing charitable work because she was worried that anyone doing a background check on her might have uncovered the fact she’d been quizzed over a racial hate crime.

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Anthony Stansfeld, the police commissioner for Thames Valley, expressed his frustrations with current laws which forced his unit to question Savidge, who he called a ‘pillar of the community’.  

The commissioner covers the Thames Valley area which contains the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

Savidge said she was upset that the incident was recorded as a ‘racially aggravated public order offence’, despite the fact the other woman told officers it wasn’t a hate crime. 

Savidge told the paper: ‘My father was a tutor to overseas students. For me to be called a racist is horrible. I don’t trust anybody now. That’s awful, isn’t it?’

She has won support from her local MP, Dominic Grieve, QC, the former attorney-general. 

In an email to Thames Valley police, seen by The Sunday Times, Grieve said: ‘The current position is that she has been told by Thames Valley police that as long as she does not come to the attention of the police in future it is most unlikely that any reference would be made to this record even if an enhanced check were carried out into her.’

‘This, however, does not remove the taint that she considers arises on her from the way this so-called offence has been recorded.’ 

Thames Valley police said it had reclassified the incident as a ‘hate-related incident’ rather than crime.   

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