Like most people, I am a (very) amateur psychologist, in that I often ponder on why people do certain things. I live in Cambridge, and the local council tries to keep traffic out of the very centre of the historic city – basically, a triangle of narrow streets going past our loveliest buildings. Until recently, access to this area was controlled by sets of rising bollards, which could be lowered by the use of a magic card issued to vehicles who were allowed access. A couple of weeks ago, the bollards were removed and cameras installed instead. Both systems – bollards and cameras – are accompanied by large No Entry signs, warnings about penalties and night-time flashing illumination. A friend who works in local transport tells me that the council expects to make more money from camera transgressions than it did from bollard ones (people would often tailgate, or sneak through if the bollards were down by mistake). So does this mean that people are more deterred by a physical barrier (bollards, whether up or down) than by the idea of being witnessed breaking the law? Or do they only believe it is a real transgression if there is a physical barrier?
Comparing this (at last, I hear you say) to our AML endeavours, what works best? Physical barriers – you must supply these documents, you must give us proof of this information – or the knowledge that you are being witnessed in your lies (sign this declaration that what you have told us is true)? Do people take AML more seriously the more barriers we place in their path? I have no answer, as – see my first sentence – I am merely an amateur psychologist, not a professional one. But it’s interesting to mull as I cycle with impunity past the bollards and the cameras, for bicycles are exempt – being low risk, when it comes to pollution and damage to ageing streets.