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

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.

Elliot joined team road.cc bright eyed, bushy tailed, and straight out of university.

Raised in front of cathode ray tube screens bearing the images of Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong, Elliot's always had cycling in his veins.
His balance was found on a Y-framed mountain bike around South London suburbs in the 90s, while his first taste of freedom came when he claimed his father's Giant hybrid as his own at age 16.

When Elliot's not writing for road.cc about two-wheeled sustainable transportation, he's focussing on business sustainability and the challenges facing our planet in the years to come.

53 comments

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turnerc99 [74 posts] 4 years ago
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Sounds like he was arrested for not providing his details rather than for riding without lights...although that was obviously the reason he was stopped in the first place. If he'd just given his name and address he'd presumably have been given an on the spot fine (£50?)

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 4 years ago
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I imagine the conversation went something like this:-
Plod: 'Allo 'allo 'allo, what 'ave we 'ere then? No lights after dark?
Mr Copland: Sorry officer, the clocks changed and I forgot about lights.
Plod: Well you'll have to get off and walk the rest of the way.
Mr Copland: Ok officer.
Plod: I'll give you a warning this time but if we catch you again you'll get a ticket, now what's your name?
Mr Copland: Is that really necessary?
Plod: If you refuse to give me your details then I'll have to take you down the station.
Mr Copland: F off piggy.
Plod: That's it, you're nicked sonny Jim.

Nobody normally gets arrested for not having lights.

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The Hoggs [3496 posts] 4 years ago
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Slightly misleading headline ?

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CameronB [10 posts] 4 years ago
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a fine or an arrest won't put lights on the bike there and then so simply take the bike off them and let them make their way using some other method (walk, bus) and they can pick the bike up at the station on receipt of visually producing a set of lights for the aforementioned bike.

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vbvb [621 posts] 4 years ago
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drfabulous0 wrote:

I imagine the conversation went something like this:-
Plod: 'Allo 'allo 'allo, what 'ave we 'ere then? No lights after dark?
Mr Copland: Sorry officer, the clocks changed and I forgot about lights.
Plod: Well you'll have to get off and walk the rest of the way.
Mr Copland: Ok officer.
Plod: I'll give you a warning this time but if we catch you again you'll get a ticket, now what's your name?
Mr Copland: Is that really necessary?
Plod: If you refuse to give me your details then I'll have to take you down the station.
Mr Copland: F off piggy.
Plod: That's it, you're nicked sonny Jim.

Nobody normally gets arrested for not having lights.

Your wonky imagination is contradicted by the fact the guy was arrested on the lights offence, not withholding name and not breach of peace. The police person is anonymous but you give them all the benefit of your doubt, despite his conduct being chastised by the magistrates. I have a chum who is a novice special constable in the police, not particularly open-minded about cyclists, bit power mad I'd say. None too bright. Once kicked a pigeon to death.

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Vikeonabike [59 posts] 4 years ago
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The article is contradicting itself. Cycling without lights is not an arrestable offence. Not providing details is. However once at the station, where he presumably provided details he should have been given a ticket. 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!

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 4 years ago
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vbvb wrote:

the police, not particularly open-minded about cyclists, bit power mad I'd say. None too bright. Once kicked a pigeon to death.

Yeah, that's a fair point.

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The Hoggs [3496 posts] 4 years ago
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vbvb - please read the article - "According to a spokesperson from Lancashire Police Mr Copland refused to provide his details to the officer, and was subsequently arrested."

So he was arrested for not providing his name and address so either a ticket, summons or a written warning could be sent out and not for cycling without lights.

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Leodis [427 posts] 4 years ago
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So do not give your details, they try and take you to court, it gets kicked out and you pay no £50 fine... Win win.

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The Hoggs [3496 posts] 4 years ago
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drfabulous0 - your cutting and pasting leaves a little to be desired - you forgot the bit about a novice special constable  3

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CameronB [10 posts] 4 years ago
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The police only have the power to arrest you for not giving your name and address when asked, if:
- you are a driver of a vehicle on the road (and date of birth) or if involved in accident or road traffic offence whether in a car, on a bike or as a pedestrian.  37

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The Hoggs [3496 posts] 4 years ago
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.

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JoeFoxon [1 post] 4 years ago
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Not true I'm afraid. The law was changed a few years back to make arresting for an offence 'necessary'.
Potentially you can now be arrested for any offence (there is no arrestable or non arrestable offences any more) if one of several criteria apply that makes it necessary.
To establish the name and address of someone are two of those criteria.

So the rider in this case has committed an offence of riding a bike with no lights and as he refused details for an on the spot fine or summons to court, it makes his arrest 'necessary' for the matter to be dealt with - until it gets to court and they throw it out!  1

Its the same for every offence now from murder all the way down to riding with no lights - cops have to justify why the arrest was necessary, obvious in some cases, less so in others!

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allez neg [496 posts] 4 years ago
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If you've been spotted by the plod committing an offence (or he has reasonable grounds to suspect you've committed an offence ) then plod has the legal power to require you to provide your name and address in order to carry out checks and if ne essary either report you for summons or issue a fixed penalty notice.

If you refuse to provide details of identity and address the plod can arrest you for the original offence, the arrest being necessary to ascertain identity (and in this case arguably public safety and to prevent further similar offences)

All easily avoided by either providing name and address (verifiable by some form of ID, checkable on PNC or the electoral roll, or even possibly a phone call to a relative) or even more easily by spending 20 quid on some LED lights that weigh virtually nowt, have long lasting batteries and may stop you from being pureed by some big truck......

Sometimes plod can be overzealous but usually a bit of contrition and commonsense goes a long way.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 4 years ago
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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?

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BigDummy [314 posts] 4 years ago
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They are a thin, blue line protecting us from the chaos and darkness that lies just outside the flickering lamplight. I for one salute them.

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allez neg [496 posts] 4 years ago
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38 years old. Old enough to know better, I would say.

I wonder if he drives too? Many moons ago I had a fairly lax attitude to lights, partly 'cos they weighed a ton and the batteries lasted only a few days ( as well as the carefree impetuosity and naughtiness of youth) but also because I thought I could still be seen ok.

When I got round to getting my car and bike licences, and a car and a bike, I realised just how hard it can be to spot un-illuminated and camouflaged cyclists, especially on unlit roads.

I also remember frequently tensing up and waiting for the impact on my own 8 mile cycle commute back from work on an unlit road, despite bright orange coat and 3 rear lights when i heard something big or fast approaching from behind.

I have been lucky and never hit any cyclists (lit or unlit) whilst driving, but I doubt that the knowledge of their contributory negligence would salve my conscience if I put someone in hospital 'cos I didn't see them until it was too late.

Maybe this is a degree of empathy and enlightenment that Mr38 yr old shopkeeper has yet to acquire.

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mrchrispy [499 posts] 4 years ago
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his mistake was stopping in the first place!!!

thats a joke btw  3

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MrGear [87 posts] 4 years ago
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Fine them £30 and give them some decent lights in return. Win-win.

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Cantab [102 posts] 4 years ago
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MrGear wrote:

Fine them £30 and give them some decent lights in return. Win-win.

£50 now, £30 clearly wasn't a sufficient deterrent for these hardened criminals. Definitely all for 'lights instead of fines' schemes though!

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Carl [142 posts] 4 years ago
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Maybe a good solution is for the police to team up with a bike shop and then do a 'stop and fit or get a fine' initiative.

The police would get to enforce the law in a way that's friendly and helpful, cyclists get lit up properly and it would also save money on handing out then rescinding fines. A local bike shop would do a decent trade as well.

If any cyclists refused to fit lights, then fine them for being a dickhead.

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gazza_d [473 posts] 4 years ago
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I do wonder how many drivers get pulled up for wonky or no lights. I see plenty every time I go out with either just fog+sidelights, faulty bulbs, or completely buggered electrics.

There is no excuse for cycling without lights, but the Police do seem to go for the easy option all the time.

Also this case does seem strange in that it got all the way to the court room before someone saw sense. I do suspect plod overstepped a mark by quite a degree here

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IanW1968 [357 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

Agreed, (sort of) but weres the resource coming from and can some of it firstly be used to stop car, van, truck drivers speeding, updating facebook profiles, texting, talking on mobiles, parking on pavements, parking outside schools etc.
All of which the consequences to third parties are much more serious than some bloke getting home late on a push bike.

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oozaveared [937 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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pwake [434 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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oozaveared [937 posts] 4 years ago
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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

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racyrich [308 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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oozaveared [937 posts] 4 years ago
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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?

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Colin Peyresourde [1830 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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jarredscycling [455 posts] 4 years ago
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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

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