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Civil liberties concerns may scupper Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

 

Police Community Support Officers may not get the power to issue fixed penalty notices to cyclists without pedal reflectors after the House of Lords last night voted to amend the Government’s Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.

The bill would extend to PCSOs the current power of police officers to stop cyclists who don’t have reflectors on their bikes.

However, that’s an almost incidental provision of a bill that is coming under flak for criminalising making a nuisance of yourself.

Even the Conservative Home website has criticised the bill, which seeks to replace ASBOs with the much broader IPNAs (Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance), calling it “dangerous and poorly worded”.

Civil libertarians fear that the provision could be used against many kinds of political speech and protest. The political abuse of the extension of powers to PCSOs also worries the CTC.

The CTC’s Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen yesterday told road.cc: “The risk is that this power simply gets used when a local police force decides to have a politically-motivated crack-down on cyclists: stop them, fine them for anything you spot that they are doing wrong, then tell the local media that you’re clamping down on unsafe cyclist behaviour.

“That risk isn’t limited to the issue of reflectors – it relates to all the powers that this Bill is now proposing to give to PCSOs.”

But while Lord Berkeley was planning yesterday to table an amendment specifically addressing the powers of PCSOs over reflectors, it was an amendment proposed by crossbencher Lord Dear that puts the bill’s future into question.

Lord Dear said the new power “risks being used for those who seek to protest peacefully, noisy children in the street, street preachers, canvassers, carol singers, trick-or-treaters, church bell ringers, clay pigeon shooters, nudists. This is a crowded island that we live in and we must exercise a degree surely of tolerance and forbearance.”

Peers backed Lord Dear’s amendment to replace the phrase "nuisance and annoyance" in the legislation with "harassment, alarm or distress". That’s the behaviour that can trigger an ASBO, making the difference between an ASBO and an IPNA small enough the Government may decide not to take the bill any further.

Further discussion of the bill has been scheduled for next Tuesday, when it's believed the specific issue of PCSO powers and reflectors will be debated.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

26 comments

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caaad10 [184 posts] 2 years ago
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Good.

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CameronB [10 posts] 2 years ago
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My SPD's dont have reflectors..

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Wookie [242 posts] 2 years ago
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About the only use I can see for PCSO's (or Bless em's as I once heard them being called) is help little old ladies cross the road.

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Carlton Reid [132 posts] 2 years ago
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Sorry. Now amended my story. Turns out #reflectorgate wasn't part of last night's defeat. Grrr. (Still good for civil liberties, of course).

http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/lords-reject-reflectorgate-bill-because...

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Stumps [3357 posts] 2 years ago
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The CSO's where i work are spot on a do a hell of a lot of good work and are a massive asset to us.

Of course people who dont work in the Police have very little knowledge of the work they do carry out because its not up front and in your face.

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jollygoodvelo [1477 posts] 2 years ago
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Good.

"Nuisance and annoyance" would be very hard to pin down in court - and therefore open to so much interpretation by the PCSOs in the wild that it would become ridiculous. Whereas "harassment, alarm or distress" is much clearer.

Having said that I'd happily put an ASBO on anyone going trick or treating.

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droidathon [2 posts] 2 years ago
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The pedal reflector issue is so outdated... my jacket, bib-tights, shoes (and shoe covers) all have reflective material on them.

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bici1977 [42 posts] 2 years ago
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Get a fine for no reflectors but no prosecution for driver that dont indicate or such... #laughable

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pmanc [203 posts] 2 years ago
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The pedal reflectors requirement is a farce and everybody knows it.

My (inexpensive but serviceable) hybrid came with pedal reflectors which fell off in under a month.

When I took it in for its free one month "bedding in" service I made them replace the reflectors just to make the point. They did so, but predictably the new ones didn't last any longer.

A pointless waste of everyone's time and money.

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tourdelound [159 posts] 2 years ago
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CameronB wrote:

My SPD's dont have reflectors..

Mine do........

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Al__S [1053 posts] 2 years ago
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There are very ugly, easily broken screw on reflectors for SPD-SL. Not easy to get hold of. Very very easy to kick off.

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numbercruncher [28 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah. Got some of those. One broke off on about the third ride as I was trying to clip in and kicked it off trying to spin the pedal the right way up!

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Notsofast [126 posts] 2 years ago
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there is no provision in the law for the size of said reflector, I propose a Road.cc startup on some crowdfunding site of a 1mm square reflector

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andybnk [97 posts] 2 years ago
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No room for these on speed plays tho!

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I love my bike [157 posts] 2 years ago
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Correct on the size part not being specified, but good luck marking them with the BS Standard mark!

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1989/1796/schedule/20/made

Apart from not having the required text, amber reflective tape can be applied to the leading and trailing edges of many pedals, and weighs & costs very little e.g. http://www.moglo.co.uk/moglo_reflective_tape.htm

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CanAmSteve [253 posts] 2 years ago
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Isn't headlamp use by cars optional in areas with streetlamps? Just where are cyclists being fined for not having lights? Sort of odd bicycles must use lights but not cars (in areas lit by street lamps).

https://www.gov.uk/general-rules-all-drivers-riders-103-to-158/lighting-...

It's a shame the opportunity to inject some common sense into the regulations was missed. As far as reflectors go, as we know many clipless pedals have no reflector option or ones that don't work very well. Is there some evidence that reflector pedals have magical anti-accident properties? I suspect other EU countries do not mandate their use - that would explain why some SPD pedals I order come with reflectors - some without.

Why not something along the line of - "bicycles ridden at night must have a red reflector to the rear, measuring X sq mm or more and visible at a height of Y at a distance of Z" (and so on).

Similarly, pedal reflectors could be described so that tape of reflective patches on shoes or trouser legs (clips, etc.) would be acceptable. Being so specific just allows those jobsworthy coppers (not suggesting all are like that) to write up their ten tickets a month all at once.

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DF2299 [2 posts] 2 years ago
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I can't believe the number of negative comments about PCSOs on this item. As a PCSO and a cyclist I take road safety very seriously. However, I can assure cyclists that PCSOs have better and more important things to do than issue Fixed Penalty Tickets to cyclists with no reflectors.

I'm more concerned about the number of cyclists who ride at night and poor visibility conditions with no lights. At the moment I stop them and give them words of advice. If I could issue a ticket I probably wouldn't as I would rather the cyclist spent their money on a set of lights than a £50 fine. I even secured some funding and bought lights that I give out to young cyclists.

If PCSOs are told to clamp-down on cyclists riding on the pavements or who have no lights then this has come from our Police Officer Managers.

So before you slate PCSOs, we are only doing our job and we would rather stop a cyclist and educate them than give out penalty fines.

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Stumps [3357 posts] 2 years ago
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DF2299 wrote:

I can't believe the number of negative comments about PCSOs on this item. As a PCSO and a cyclist I take road safety very seriously. However, I can assure cyclists that PCSOs have better and more important things to do than issue Fixed Penalty Tickets to cyclists with no reflectors.

I'm more concerned about the number of cyclists who ride at night and poor visibility conditions with no lights. At the moment I stop them and give them words of advice. If I could issue a ticket I probably wouldn't as I would rather the cyclist spent their money on a set of lights than a £50 fine. I even secured some funding and bought lights that I give out to young cyclists.

If PCSOs are told to clamp-down on cyclists riding on the pavements or who have no lights then this has come from our Police Officer Managers.

So before you slate PCSOs, we are only doing our job and we would rather stop a cyclist and educate them than give out penalty fines.

Well said mate, as i mentioned before the ones we work worth are spot on. People dont know half of what you have to do.  41

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therevokid [953 posts] 2 years ago
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and what about riders who naturally pedal heel down ??

As already noted ... speedplay users are in trouble !

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Wookie [242 posts] 2 years ago
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And I will continue to have my opinion on PCSO's they are simply wanabe police officers who failed to make the grade.

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DF2299 [2 posts] 2 years ago
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I have never applied to be a Police Officer so can't be classed as "failed to make the grade". Being a Police Officer is a rewarding job and I enjoy working alongside officers. But I don't wannabe a Police Officer.

Most people who criticise PCSOs don't understand what the role is. We have been around for 10 years now and to be honest the level of service to the public could not be delivered by Police Officers and would fail without PCSOs.

You're entitled to your opinion but you maybe need to be less general in your comments.

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Roger Geffen [57 posts] 2 years ago
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Lord Dear's amendment has ONLY amended the part of the Bill that would have introduced IPNAS (Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance) to replace ASBOs.

Personally, I'd completely agree that this is very good news for civil liberties!

However it has no bearing on the rest of the Bill, e.g. the part that gives PCSOs new powers to enforce various traffic offences (including the regs on cyclists' lights and reflectors).

That part of the Bill is now set to be debated later this month, probably on January 20th or 22nd.

The amendments, to be tabled by Lord Berkeley (who is a CTC Vice-President and secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group) will seek to ensure that the reflector regs are either updated before PCSOs are given the power to enforce them, or else deleted. We will also seek to ensure that Advance Stop Lines can be enforced by PCSOs (along with red light jumping, bus lanes and cycle lanes - these too are now covered by the Bill, following an earlier Goverment amendment in the Lords), and that PCSOs are given adequate training in traffic law and cycle safety.

CTC welcomes stronger enforcement of road traffic law - after all, that is a key objective of our Road Justice campaign (www.roadjustice.org.uk). However traffic law enforcement needs to be guided by real road safety priorities, and not the vindictiveness of some local politicians or the petty ignorance of some police officers/PCSOs.

Roger Geffen
Campaigns & Policy Director
CTC, the national cycling charity

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matthewn5 [812 posts] 2 years ago
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+1 for 3M diamond grade reflector tape. You can even get a version in black (3M Scotchlite Black) so it doesn't spoil your all-black bike. I don't see any disadvantage to being more visible at night.

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Recumbenteer [166 posts] 2 years ago
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tourdelound wrote:
CameronB wrote:

My SPD's dont have reflectors..

Mine do........

I rather suspect the reflectors still won't work on many a recumbent.

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gb901 [153 posts] 2 years ago
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stumps wrote:

The CSO's where i work are spot on a do a hell of a lot of good work and are a massive asset to us.

Of course people who dont work in the Police have very little knowledge of the work they do carry out because its not up front and in your face.

What you you mean is that they do all the leg work and crappy, time consuming jobs that police officers can no longer be bothered with?!

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gb901 [153 posts] 2 years ago
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DF2299 wrote:

I have never applied to be a Police Officer so can't be classed as "failed to make the grade". Being a Police Officer is a rewarding job and I enjoy working alongside officers. But I don't wannabe a Police Officer.

Most people who criticise PCSOs don't understand what the role is. We have been around for 10 years now and to be honest the level of service to the public could not be delivered by Police Officers and would fail without PCSOs.

You're entitled to your opinion but you maybe need to be less general in your comments.

No, PCSOs, are a waste of time and, more importantly, public resources, at a time when they're being stretched ever thinner! No fitness test or medical required before starting the job.

Many round my area appear to be nearing retirement age around the time the began!

PCSOs: pointless!