While I make no comment on the Danny Shine and PC Stout matter, as the video has been taken down, I thought it might be a useful moment to make some general comments on cycling, red lights, police powers and the law.
Jumping red lights is an offence. Even for cyclists – and the law gives uniformed constables the power of arrest for a cyclist’s refusal to give name and address details where the uniformed constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting the cyclist has committed an offence.
Cyclists on roads are subject to the Road Traffic Act, 1988
Nevertheless, the police can only exercise powers they’ve been given, so let’s look at the powers the police might exercise when stopping a cyclist for jumping a red light – where a cyclist refuses to give his name and address.
Police power to stop a bicycle on the road
s163(2) of the RTA states:
A person riding a cycle on a road must stop the vehicle on being required to do so by a constable in uniform or a traffic officer.
Failure to give, or giving a false name and address (Reckless, Careless or Inconsiderate Cycling)
s168 of the RTA states:
Any of the following persons:
(b) the rider of a cycle who is alleged to have committed an offence under section 28 or 29 of this Act,
who refuses, on being so required by any person having reasonable ground for so requiring, to give his name and address, or gives a false name and address, is guilty of an offence.
Now, what are the ss28 & 29 offences?
s28 Dangerous cycling
A person who rides a cycle on a road dangerously is guilty of an offence.
The test for “dangerous” here is whether the way in which is rider rides, “falls far below that expected of a competent and careful cyclist, and it would be obvious to such a cyclist that such riding is dangerous”.
Jumping a red light, for example, may not satisfy the “dangerous cycling” test – but …
s29 Careless and inconsiderate cycling
If a person rides a cycle on a road without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road, he is guilty of an offence.
What does “due care and attention” and “reasonable consideration for other persons using the road” mean?
Here, the test is whether the cycling departs from the level of skill and care that would, in the circumstances of the case, have been exercised by a reasonable and competent cyclist.
Failing to comply with road traffic regulations, running stop lights for example, can be enough to prove a s29 offence.
s36 Drivers to comply with traffic signs
makes it an offence to fail to comply with a traffic indication (red light). Cyclists must stop at red lights.
What this all means, hypothetically, of course
If a cyclist were stopped by a uniformed constable for running a red light, it’s entirely possible under the RTA, that cyclist would be asked to confirm their name and address details and issued with a £30 Fixed Penalty Notice – or kindly “words of advice”.
Now, say if a cyclist did not want to play nice and refused to give their name and address details to the uniformed constable, they could find the situation needlessly escalating to an arrest.
Read on, because if you don’t think the RTA powers are enough, there’s always PACE:
S24 PACE Power of Arrest
(1) A constable may arrest without a warrant–
(a) anyone who is about to commit an offence;
(b) anyone who is in the act of committing an offence;
(c) anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be about to commit an offence;
(d) anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an offence.
(2) If a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed, he may arrest without a warrant anyone whom he has reasonable grounds to suspect of being guilty of it.
(3) If an offence has been committed, a constable may arrest without a warrant–
(a) anyone who is guilty of the offence;
(b) anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of it.
(4) But the power of summary arrest conferred by subsection (1), (2) or (3) is exercisable only if the constable has reasonable grounds for believing that for any of the reasons mentioned in subsection (5) it is necessary to arrest the person in question.
(5) The reasons are–
(a) to enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in the case where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person’s name, or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name);
(b) correspondingly as regards the person’s address;
(c) to prevent the person in question–
(i) causing physical injury to himself or any other person;
(ii) suffering physical injury;
(iii) causing loss of or damage to property;
(iv) committing an offence against public decency (subject to subsection (6)); or
(v) causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway;
(d) to protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question;
(e) to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question;
(f) to prevent any prosecution for the offence from being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question.
The “Teachable Moment”?
Running red lights is an offence. Even for cyclists. The RTA and PACE give uniformed constables the power of arrest for a refusal to give name and address details where they have reasonable grounds for suspecting an offence has been committed. If you’re a cyclist and have been stopped for a RTA offence, why escalate the situation from a Fixed Penalty Notice or “words of advice” to an arrest and being taken to the police station for refusing to give your name and address?