Lightless cyclist locked up by Lancashire Police

“One does begin to wonder what is going on"… says prosecution lawyer

by Elliot Johnston   November 7, 2013  

Cycling in the dark (CC lisenced by Flickr user Boegh)

Lancashire police arrested and locked up a Blackpool cyclist for riding without lights last week, but when the case came to court the prosecution declined to proceed saying it was not in the public interest to do so.

Edward Copland, 38, was arrested by police when he was caught pedalling along a street-lit urban road in dark clothes and without lights on his bike, and according to a police spokesman refused to give his details - although this does not appear to be the charge on which Mr Copland went before the court.

After being taken to the local police station, processed and held in a cell, Mr Copland was released, and later issued with a court summons through the post.

Shop owner Mr Copland acknowledged his guilt and spoke to the Blackpool Gazette: “OK I did not have the lights on - but the hour had just changed on the clocks, normally it would have been light on my way home.”

As the case was put forward at Blackpool Magistrates Court, Crown Prosecutor Alison Quanbrough told the justices: “I must admit I was surprised to see this allegation brought to court. It would appear it was dark at the time and the defendant was wearing dark clothing. The police also say it was a dark coloured bike.

“However I do feel it is not in the public interest to continue and take this allegation any further.

“One does begin to wonder what is going on.”

The Magistrates withdrew the case before Mr Copland had the opportunity to plead guilty to the charges. After stepping down from the dock, the 38 year old bemoaned the ordeal, saying: “What a complete waste of public money. It must have costs thousands in police and court time to put me through this.”

According to a spokesperson from Lancashire Police Mr Copland refused to provide his details to the officer, and was subsequently arrested.

The shop owner from Blackpool isn’t alone in being caught out by the clocks going back. Police in Oxford issued 171 riders £50 fines in the space of three hours last Friday in a crackdown operation against light-less cyclists.

53 user comments

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I wonder whether the Police officer concerned and custody Sergeant that didn't query the offence oughtn't to be charged with wasting police time. At the very least they ought to be docked the wages for the time spent on this.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [745 posts]
7th November 2013 - 13:34

16 Likes

Well, I'm no legal expert as most above seem to be, but I'd like to be the first to say "Bravo" to the Crown Prosecutor for displaying that all too rare quality of common sense.

posted by pwake [313 posts]
7th November 2013 - 13:42

28 Likes

Vikeonabike wrote:
The article is contradicting itself.However the magistrate throwing it out with out applying at least the penalty for riding without lights and costs,basically makes a complete mockery of the law and allows everyone to get away with out lights!

The magistrate didn't throw it out. The CPS lawyer just refused point blank to prosecute and dropped the prosecution like a hot brick. I assume on the basis that it is the CPS which has to defend the decision to prosecute. And the decision to prosecute also implies that the police were right to arrest a cyclist for a non-arrestable offence.

The police did not charge the cyclist with refusing to give details. They charged for not having lights on his bike. That is a fixed penalty offence. The "refusing to give details" comes from a police spokesman after the CPS showed them up by very publicly refusing to have anything to do with this nonsense.

The "refusing details" story is a post facto bit of face saving. That is an arrestable offence but he wasn't charged with it.

So either he refused to give details and the police stupidly charged him with a non-arrestable minor fixed penalty offence. = Incompetence

or

They arrested him for a non-arrestable offence and charged him with it. = incompetence

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [745 posts]
7th November 2013 - 15:37

33 Likes

There's no obligation to accept a fixed penalty. That's an admission of guilt. Feel free to admit guilt if appropriate (and in this case I'd imagine it was) but don't do so automatically.

posted by racyrich [152 posts]
7th November 2013 - 15:49

27 Likes

banzicyclist2 wrote:
l think its about time the police started dealing with people who ride with no lights / jump red lights / and ride on pavements . Putting them in the cells seams a good way of enforcing the point this behaviour is Unacceptable. It will make the roads safer for all of us when all cyclist obay the rules of the road.

There's no excuse for having no lights and blaming the hour going back ? Come on its not as if its a surprise each year is it?

Did I read that right? No lights, riding on a footpath = being locked up

Whereas driving your car with no lights switched on would be a warning
defective lights would be a producer, speeding in your car is a fixed penalty, as is driving on the pavement.

Here are some facts for you

In 2010. 4 pedestrians were killed in collision with a cycle, while 76 were
injured – (in any location either on the road, pavement or in the countryside I can't get a breakdown ).

The same year- 43 pedestrians were killed in collision with a vehicle on a footway (including cycles though there were only four in total anywhere and we don't know if they were on the footway).

According to an FOI request by the CTC covering all of London for the period from 1998 to 2007 no pedestrian, none zipp, zilch, nada, not a one was killed in collision with a cyclist on a footway. For the same period in London 54 pedestrians were killed on footways in collision with motor vehicles (779 were seriously injured)

Now, tell me again who needs to be going to the cells?

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [745 posts]
7th November 2013 - 16:04

19 Likes

Stumps, wouldn't you like the idea of marching such a cyclist down to the nearest LBS and making the offender by a new set of lights (regardless of whether he has any).

It would save time, put money into the local economy and serve as both a deterrent and safety measure.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1200 posts]
7th November 2013 - 16:51

28 Likes

was he arrested for refusing to provide his details or riding without lights. I get that the cops give a hard time to people who are being "difficult" but this seems extreme to put it mildly

posted by jarredscycling [456 posts]
7th November 2013 - 17:01

14 Likes

Whereas a FP for riding without lights seems a 'fair cop' I'd rather see a fine vs lights scheme used.

As for failing to give details: the police have no right to ask a cyclist to do so any more than they do a pedestrian in the normal course of going about their business. That, and it's something the police have tried elsewhere, only applies to those driving vehicles.

posted by IHphoto [112 posts]
7th November 2013 - 17:26

17 Likes

oozaveared wrote:
Vikeonabike wrote:
The article is contradicting itself.However the magistrate throwing it out with out applying at least the penalty for riding without lights and costs,basically makes a complete mockery of the law and allows everyone to get away with out lights!

The magistrate didn't throw it out. The CPS lawyer just refused point blank to prosecute and dropped the prosecution like a hot brick. I assume on the basis that it is the CPS which has to defend the decision to prosecute. And the decision to prosecute also implies that the police were right to arrest a cyclist for a non-arrestable offence.

The police did not charge the cyclist with refusing to give details. They charged for not having lights on his bike. That is a fixed penalty offence. The "refusing to give details" comes from a police spokesman after the CPS showed them up by very publicly refusing to have anything to do with this nonsense.

The "refusing details" story is a post facto bit of face saving. That is an arrestable offence but he wasn't charged with it.

So either he refused to give details and the police stupidly charged him with a non-arrestable minor fixed penalty offence. = Incompetence

or

They arrested him for a non-arrestable offence and charged him with it. = incompetence

Just a quick line to correct your mistakes - the man was not charged with an offence, he was reported for summons BIG difference.

There is no such thing as an arrestable or non arrestable offence anymore. You can be arrested for any offence IF the circumstances warrant it. Here it was because the chap has declined to give his details therefore a fixed penalty, written warning or a summons cant be issused.

So if your going to shout your mouth off about incompetence please make sure you have the facts right. Cheers matey.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
7th November 2013 - 21:23

15 Likes

Colin Peyresourde wrote:
Stumps, wouldn't you like the idea of marching such a cyclist down to the nearest LBS and making the offender by a new set of lights (regardless of whether he has any).

It would save time, put money into the local economy and serve as both a deterrent and safety measure.

Yes, i completely agree.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
7th November 2013 - 21:23

18 Likes

IHphoto wrote:
Whereas a FP for riding without lights seems a 'fair cop' I'd rather see a fine vs lights scheme used.

As for failing to give details: the police have no right to ask a cyclist to do so any more than they do a pedestrian in the normal course of going about their business. That, and it's something the police have tried elsewhere, only applies to those driving vehicles.

If you commit an offence, regardless of how minor it is, we can ask for your details. Dont give them and your likely to be arrested, simples.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
7th November 2013 - 21:26

16 Likes

I haven't read all the comments so sorry if it has been covered already.

The police do not have the power to arrest anyone for breaking the law. S24A of PACE which grants police officers powers of arrest state arrest can only be used if certain criteria are filled. Some of these are name not known or doubted.

However, what S24a PACE did create was the power to arrest for ANY offence if the criteria are filled.

So the suspect here will likely have refused his details following committing the offence of riding without lights during hours of darkness. He will have been stopped by officers legitimately.

The unofficial attitude test would have taken place. I.e do you know why you have been stopped, yes officer I hae no lights I'm sorry I'll walk home. No problem thanks very much. Or... What more likely happened here. Do you know why you have been stopped. Because you've nothing better to do? Etc etc. Officer points out the offence and advises to provide details for issue of ticket / summons ( completely legitimately ) and details are refused or clearly wrong (I.e I'm Mickey Mouse of mouse land ). Final warning to cooperate given, and then arrests are made because the ante has been upped and the officer is left with no choice.

That being said, as soon as the necessity for arrest ceases, the power does to. Ok officer I'm sorry my name is john smith here's my id. Right off you go.

To go ahead with a prosecution should only be reserved for the more sinister members of our society and those that are doing their best to evade justice. Seems excessive in these circumstances, but then we only have what is reported.

Can elaborate further re PACE etc if anyone was interested.
Sincerely doubt it mind!

posted by Sswindells [16 posts]
7th November 2013 - 21:31

17 Likes

Sswindells - i disagree with your final paragraph -

"To go ahead with a prosecution should only be reserved for the more sinister members of our society and those that are doing their best to evade justice."

The law is there for a reason and just because your generally mr or mrs cannybody does not mean you dont get prosecuted.
If you break the law then you have to suffer the consequences whatever they maybe. It may sound a bit draconian but we are now to soft on people who break the law and thats why the country is in such a mess.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
7th November 2013 - 21:41

14 Likes

Stopped for no lights - offence, fair enough. The Police have a few options I'd say. Advise, gain co-operation and get the guy to walk, or deal formally with offence by way of ticket. If the Police do nothing and the cyclist carries on riding and gets killed just up the road in a vehicle collision..... well the consequences are not good for the Police.

I dont go with this whole attitude test thing, I reckon most Police decide what they are going to do before they engage the person, you know being impartial and all that... I'd be utterly disappointed if that were the case and the norm. So it looks like the officer decided the formal method - issue a ticket. Thats the officers call and we should not judge them on it. The cyclist fails to give his details necessary for the ticket. The officer has no choice in that case - the Police cannot back down and nor would I want them to. Its actually the cyclist that is now dictating what move the Police have to do next. The cyclist might have refused the ticket. Either way he gets nabbed for failing to give details so that he could have be summonsed. If the cyclist was being gobby then the Police would have nabbed him for that I would suggest.

So he's locked up in a Police cell. The Police now have to deal with him. How, exactly? What are their options? They can release him without charge. Having established his details at the station they could release him after reporting him for summons which is what appears to have happened. I'm not sure why he went to court, maybe he refused to accept a caution, or a penalty notice and there was no other option, or not all options were considered because of the circumstances in the station. I would also suggest that if he had a legal representative at the station they can often give bad advice, such going "no comment" if interviewed or not saying anything other than confirming identity. I do agree that its not the best offence to take to court, but if this cyclist has been very awkward sometimes the Police have to go down a course of action that they even find themselves cringing over.

The Police always release press statements that are very, very carefully considered - they have to because of potential litigation. The press can be a monster if not treated with care. The Police never reveal the full story or go into detail because of this and very often I'm sure they'd love to shout, "Hang on a minute this is what actually happened, so wind yer feckin necks in!" But they can't and always take unfair and unwaranted criticism as a result, which they take on the chin, keep calm and carry on.

I am personally a little miffed by the CPS lawyers comments when nearly all of the time its the CPS who get it wrong. There are also ways of doing things to resolve matters that does not involve the blame game, which is how this looks.

posted by Critchio [117 posts]
7th November 2013 - 23:38

25 Likes

Question: a week ago I started my commute home and my front light battery died. So I cycled most of the way back with only a rear light. I did feel like a twat.
Well my question is, in that case could I be fined? Is it just for riding "without" lights, does the fact that I have a non-functional light attached mitigate anything?

posted by eurotrash [82 posts]
8th November 2013 - 0:18

29 Likes

Critchio wrote:
Stopped for no lights - offence, fair enough. The Police have a few options I'd say. Advise, gain co-operation and get the guy to walk, or deal formally with offence by way of ticket. If the Police do nothing and the cyclist carries on riding and gets killed just up the road in a vehicle collision..... well the consequences are not good for the Police.

I dont go with this whole attitude test thing, I reckon most Police decide what they are going to do before they engage the person, you know being impartial and all that... I'd be utterly disappointed if that were the case and the norm. So it looks like the officer decided the formal method - issue a ticket. Thats the officers call and we should not judge them on it. The cyclist fails to give his details necessary for the ticket. The officer has no choice in that case - the Police cannot back down and nor would I want them to. Its actually the cyclist that is now dictating what move the Police have to do next. The cyclist might have refused the ticket. Either way he gets nabbed for failing to give details so that he could have be summonsed. If the cyclist was being gobby then the Police would have nabbed him for that I would suggest.

So he's locked up in a Police cell. The Police now have to deal with him. How, exactly? What are their options? They can release him without charge. Having established his details at the station they could release him after reporting him for summons which is what appears to have happened. I'm not sure why he went to court, maybe he refused to accept a caution, or a penalty notice and there was no other option, or not all options were considered because of the circumstances in the station. I would also suggest that if he had a legal representative at the station they can often give bad advice, such going "no comment" if interviewed or not saying anything other than confirming identity. I do agree that its not the best offence to take to court, but if this cyclist has been very awkward sometimes the Police have to go down a course of action that they even find themselves cringing over.

The Police always release press statements that are very, very carefully considered - they have to because of potential litigation. The press can be a monster if not treated with care. The Police never reveal the full story or go into detail because of this and very often I'm sure they'd love to shout, "Hang on a minute this is what actually happened, so wind yer feckin necks in!" But they can't and always take unfair and unwaranted criticism as a result, which they take on the chin, keep calm and carry on.

I am personally a little miffed by the CPS lawyers comments when nearly all of the time its the CPS who get it wrong. There are also ways of doing things to resolve matters that does not involve the blame game, which is how this looks.

Fab reply mate, someone with a bit of common sense Applause

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
8th November 2013 - 8:59

19 Likes

eurotrash wrote:
Question: a week ago I started my commute home and my front light battery died. So I cycled most of the way back with only a rear light. I did feel like a twat.
Well my question is, in that case could I be fined? Is it just for riding "without" lights, does the fact that I have a non-functional light attached mitigate anything?

Personally speaking i would give you the benefit of the doubt and ask you to change your battery asap, pointing out the possible ramifications ie accident and to be careful on the way home.

You would end up being a happy chap having been spoken to politely and left with some honest advice.

Off the top of my head there is an offence called "lights, not in proper working order" which would cover what you described, however i'm not sure if this only applies to motor vehicles. Its under the road traffic act (construction and use section) if you really want to get mindnumbingly bored and read up about it.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
8th November 2013 - 9:08

15 Likes

eurotrash, I would expect a dead light to be the same as no light. The prospect of finding myself in the same predicament is why I now carry small backup lights (Electron Backupz, Aldi had some recently, about £4?) at this time of year.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2057 posts]
8th November 2013 - 9:52

9 Likes

Ok thanks Stumps and Simon. As it happens my front light is USB rechargeable and has a warning light when the battery is low, so I should have been able to avoid the situation... I simply forgot to recharge it at work. Might be a good idea to carry a cheapo spare with me nevertheless.

posted by eurotrash [82 posts]
8th November 2013 - 10:26

7 Likes

Tesco have a front and rear light pack for a couple of quid, they are just a single led in a rubberised shell that you wrap around the seat post / handlebars.

Like Simon mentioned i keep a couple of these in my backpack in case of an emergency and they weigh next to nothing.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2847 posts]
8th November 2013 - 10:36

7 Likes

The main thing people are missing with this is the fact he is in Blackpool and was being nicked for not having any illumination.

Blackpool.

Illuminations.

Ah, feck it, pearls before swine...

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
8th November 2013 - 12:17

16 Likes

Quite, I couldn't agree more.

And while we are at it, we should reintroduce the Birch for pavement parking and hanging for drunk driving, speeding, driving while using a handheld mobile phone, driving a car through a red traffic light etc etc.

posted by Paul M [325 posts]
8th November 2013 - 12:21

8 Likes

stumps wrote:
Sswindells - i disagree with your final paragraph -

"To go ahead with a prosecution should only be reserved for the more sinister members of our society and those that are doing their best to evade justice."

The law is there for a reason and just because your generally mr or mrs cannybody does not mean you dont get prosecuted.
If you break the law then you have to suffer the consequences whatever they maybe. It may sound a bit draconian but we are now to soft on people who break the law and thats why the country is in such a mess.

Yes. It's a clever bit of policing to tie up a cell and who knows how many man hours because some berk decided to ride without lights and not give his name. More policing like this is desperately needed, especially because it shows off the constabulary to the best possible advantage w.r.t. to public relations.

posted by Ush [434 posts]
8th November 2013 - 13:29

15 Likes

Sad that having got to court they couldn't process it with a quick and well deserved fine. The Police should have known better that it was not in the public interest to pursue from an earlier stage and issued a caution.

Either way, this is the guy who (when I'm driving my car) puts me in the awkward position of perhaps maiming or killing someone else who can't be bothered taking some responsibility for his own well-being and expects everyone else to take account of him. What a prat!

MikeF

posted by msfergus [21 posts]
8th November 2013 - 19:20

6 Likes

CPS - Can't Prosecute S***e! Great post, well considered and thank goodness there are people like you out there!

MikeF

posted by msfergus [21 posts]
8th November 2013 - 19:23

19 Likes

Not true so don't try it. You have to provide your details in many more situations than driving a vehicle. This case is a good example!

MikeF

posted by msfergus [21 posts]
8th November 2013 - 19:26

7 Likes

Given how exceedingly bright and all pervasive street lights are now, it doesn't actually seem to me to be a major problem to ride a cycle without lights (in most urban settings). This feels like a piece of legislation that was relevant in the 1970s, but isn't really appropriate now.

I have cycled in other parts of the world, and it makes you realise how much the night has been abolished in UK cities.

I have several sets of the cheap lights from Tescos for emergencies (but please note they don't meet the legal requirements, so technically you could still be stopped, and be issued with a fixed penalty, or even be arrested and appear in court if you don't give your name and address). Lets hope most PCs can use their common sense. Problem is of course you probably will have forgotten to carry them on the day/night you need them, and you can't leave them on the bike as they always get nicked by kids.

Personally I favour hub dynamos and LED lights with stand light features. Pretty reliable, much less likely to get nicked, and legally compliant. Unlike the old bulb dynamo lights the LED ones rarely fail, and are much brighter.

posted by joncrel [8 posts]
8th November 2013 - 22:55

5 Likes

Sswindells wrote:
Final warning to cooperate given, and then arrests are made because the ante has been upped and the officer is left with no choice.

Biggest problem with this is that officers are also trained / learn how to escalate the situation at will to reach an 'arrestable' situation. It's going to be most useful against soft targets, who won't later file a complaint about the arrest.

The whole story stinks.

posted by jacknorell [572 posts]
9th November 2013 - 15:10

15 Likes

stumps wrote:
If you break the law then you have to suffer the consequences whatever they maybe. It may sound a bit draconian but we are now to soft on people who break the law and thats why the country is in such a mess.

I'd argue we're far too soft on career criminals, who know how to play the game with the police and CPS. The average person doesn't, and what should be a non-issue can then turn into a life-changing encounter with the justice system.

posted by jacknorell [572 posts]
9th November 2013 - 15:13

7 Likes

Enjoyed some of these comments so much i have included them in :

Skippi-Cyclist.blogspot.com Applause

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [392 posts]
10th November 2013 - 12:42

4 Likes