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Police explain they had no powers to ban ride despite local protests

The Portsmouth leg of the World Naked Bike Ride yesterday passed off without incident despite local opposition that had resulted in a petition signed by 1,500 people seeking to stop the event, designed to celebrate the human body, promote cycling and highlight dependency cars and the vulnerability of cyclists on the road.

The ride began at Rock Gardens, Southsea, at midday yesterday and passed through Old Portsmouth, and the city centre on its way back to the start via Elm Grove and Palmerston Road. A video of the event can be found on the BBC website.

Quoted on local news website About My Area, Chief Inspector Ali Heydari, commander for Portsmouth South, said: "Today's naked bike ride in Portsmouth was one of many to have taken place across the UK and it passed without any disturbance or arrests.

"The organisers co-operated fully with police and a route was agreed which took the cyclists around the city in around an hour.

“They were accompanied by a police cycle team of six officers in order to minimise any impact to traffic and the wider community.

“This tactic was successful, resulting in us only having to briefly halt the traffic at one junction to allow the cyclists to pass through one sequence of traffic lights.

“Some people who were against the cycle ride had indicated that they may protest at the event itself. We had to legislate for this and ensure there were enough police officers in attendance to maintain everyone's safety and right to protest peacefully, hence the number of police cyclists originally planned was increased to six.

"Response officers in the Southsea area were aware that the event was taking place and were ready to respond to any incidents or calls for assistance, as they would be with any large event.

"We are aware that some members of the local community did not want this ride to take place and we have listened to them, addressed their concerns and openly answered their questions.

“We have explained to the individuals who did not support the event that we have no powers, either in statute or in common law, to simply ban the ride. There is no precedent in the UK for events such as these to be banned by the police and this decision was reached after full consultation with the force solicitor.

"This event passed off peacefully and without incident and I would like to thank the wider community in Southsea for their co-operation."

Southampton also hosted a World Naked Bike Ride yesterday, while today sees cyclists in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter and London join in the intiative. Tomorrow, it’s Brighton’s turn, while the final British ride this year will be in Bristol next Sunday.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

8 comments

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mrmo [2093 posts] 5 years ago
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not arguing against the ride, just surprised the police couldn't find something to use to ban the ride? surely be naked in public is enough?

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dave atkinson [6261 posts] 5 years ago
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Being naked in public isn't illegal in itself unless you're using nudity to "harass, alarm or distress" others, which is an offence against the Public Order Act of 1986. That being said there's plenty of other instances of people using nudity to make a point being arrested and charged.

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Michael5 [121 posts] 5 years ago
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Can't see much difference between this and the actions of the guy who was fined £500 the other day; riding his bike naked through the speed camera.

Why didn't the police take names, addresses of all participants and press charges - think what it would do to the crime stats; all those successfully solved crimes!

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charlie bravo [50 posts] 5 years ago
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Because all those successfully solved 'crimes' would be classed as Section 5 Public Order - which is classified as a violent crime.

So if you prosecute 100 people for S5 you have 100 extra violent crimes - ergo a massive rise in violent crime. The powers that be (Superintendent ranks and above) receive (IMHO immoral) cash bonuses for detecting crime but also reducing crime. Had all these people been prosecuted it is likely that due to the increase of crime in any one area these cash bonuses would not have been paid.

As for the one guy through the speed camera - its easy to prosecute one guy, not so with 100.

As well as S5 you could also find yourself lifted for breach of the peace for being nude in public.

This sort of thing happened in my force at an event one year - we were ordered to give S5 tickets to all persons who urinated in public. There were something like 74 crimes recorded over the 3 days. The upshot of this was, that the quaint tranquil town where the event was held was now considered to be one of the most violent towns in Wales - which it wasn't.

On other matters - chapeau Mr Wiggins and here's to a major title this time tomorrow

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Michael5 [121 posts] 5 years ago
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Just brilliant Charlie Bravo; thanks for the explanation. So the answer is, if you're going to commit a crime, make sure there's loads of you involved!

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efail [102 posts] 5 years ago
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I presume most of us on here are cyclists. How many of us urinate in public? The group I cycle with, often up to twenty, have no qualms of just pulling over and urinating, most without getting off their bikes. So yesterday (unofficially) the crime rate at Ullswater rocketed. I have nothing against the naked cyclists. They do exhibit the vulnerability of the human body and, if that is enough to make the motorist take a bit more care, then more of it.

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charlie bravo [50 posts] 5 years ago
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Just to clarify - the urinating in public - not a crime in itself. The above example was where people urinated in shop doorways, against peoples front doors, in gardens and down alleyways to houses etc. This obviously would cause shopkeeper/householders some degree of harassment, alarm or distress (the key elements of section 5). Some forces have got it right - they make the people clean it up - no one wants to step out of their house in the morning into a puddle of piss. Massive difference to peeing into a field - of which I am guilty of many times over (including being on duty)  4 I'm still to master the road racers art of offloading whilst on bike as always go into a wobble getting the old chap out  4

And yes - if you want to commit crime then you do it en masse which is why you never see enough prosecutions arising out of violent disorders and riots such as the recent protests. There just aren't the facilities to arrest everyone at the same time and provide them with the basic rights that they are entitled to under the police and criminal evidence act (PACE)

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IanMichaels [1 post] 3 years ago
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These events have nothing to do with protesting pollution, its just to mainstream nudity in public.
It's a magnet to every pervert in the country who just wants to expose themselves. In Hyde Park corner nudists just used the excuse to naked sunbathe for the day.

This sickness won't stop till people start taking the law in to their own hands and start making arrests of these perverts.