Tuesday, 9 July 2013

POPLA technical incompetence causes cases to be cut short

POPLA aren't the brightest sparks when it comes to technical matters. They seem to have a dim grip on the data protection act, forwarding sensitive data to parking companies and other third parties. They invite video data as evidence on their website but then bury their head in the sand when they do not understand the format. They do not consistently follow up or reply to requests for confirmation that all evidence has been received.

The latest news shows they aren't too hot at web design either.

The post here by thevixen111 shows that the POPLA web page cuts off appeals after an arbitrary character limit. There is no warning on their web page when this happens.

Neither Richard Reeve, nor any other member of the POPLA data administration team showed any initiative in this or similar appeals by following up the data truncation issue. Where the appeal length is exactly the same as the arbitrary character limit it is more than likely that data truncation has occurred. These cases should always be followed up with the motorist to ensure the full appeal has been received.

A simple 'we may not have received your appeal correctly, please check' email would suffice. They have, after all, currently around 5 months to do this between appeal filing and adjudication date.

The assessor, Shona Watson, was similarly incompetent when handling the case. She noticed that the data appeared to be corrupt, ending in mid sentence, but plodded on regardless doing absolutely nothing about it. A competent assessor would have suspended the case on recognising that the data was apparently corrupt and referred it back to the administration team for further checking. Sadly competence and initiative were lacking on this occasion

It cannot be correct that motorists are denied a fair hearing due to the technical limitations of POPLA.

The Prankster recognises that it is early days and that POPLA are still feeling their feet. He calls on them to man up, admit their limitations and work towards a solution. The Prankster puts forward the following options, which he thinks are not unreasonable.

  • Where the web form is limited in the amount of data it can accept, POPLA should; clearly inform the motorist in plain language on the form itself; warn the motorist that the limit has been exceeded at the time of entry; warn the motorist that data is truncated at the time of form submission; warn the motorist that data has been truncated in the automated acknowledgement email.
  • The POPLA administration team, when processing the new submission, should pay careful attention to appeals where the appeal length is exactly or nearly the maximum. They should warn the motorist in a separate email asking them to confirm that the full appeal has been submitted
  • The POPLA adjudicator, where appeals have clearly been truncated and the administration team have not noticed, should refer the case back to the administration team and should stay the case until a reply has been received from the motorist.
The Prankster looks forward to POPLA accepting responsibility for their own technical limitations and putting remedial actions in place...but he isn't holding his breath.

Happy Parking

The Parking Prankster

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