Critical Mass - video of a red light jumper being ticketed

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Coffee
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Critical Mass - video of a red light jumper being ticketed

Postby Coffee » 11 Oct 2008, 4:47pm

Came across this whilst out googling out of boredom...:)

Videohttp://www.archive.org/details/cm29-8-08ticket

On the Critical Mass London, England rides the police make riders go through red lights, presumably to keep the Mass compact and not split up into sub-groups, aka 'splinter'. At the same time they single out and ticket and fine some riders for going through red lights! The video shows one such ticketing on the August 2008 ride




I've never done a Critical Mass ride, but it would seem that some police were guiding a group through red lights, so says this video editor... (I've seen the same done on big demo's)
The video shows a cyclist being pulled over by two police cyclists and given a ticket. (he's not a happy bunny)

Hmmmm, what do you do? Be guided by the police and go through red light or ignore police and always obey the highway code?

(surpised the videoing was allowed....photographing the police and all!)

And what do people think of Critical Mass rides?

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Postby Si » 11 Oct 2008, 4:55pm

Good way to stop RLJers - tell them that the police want them to go through reds and they'll stop doing it on principle :wink:

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Postby Richard » 11 Oct 2008, 8:16pm

To be correct, you don't obey the highway code, you obey the law. ie Road Traffic Act etc. The highway code is a set of guidelines only some of the bits of which refer to laws. It's also an offence to fail to comply with the directions given by a police officer so this overrides the requirement to stop.

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Postby thirdcrank » 11 Oct 2008, 8:31pm

Richard is right: the courts have always held that the police's power to direct traffic overrides signs etc. On the other hand, the police must be acting in the execution of their duty. This means in this case, directing traffic for a lawful purpose. Directing people to ignore traffic lights to minimise the disruption which might be caused by a CM ride is one thing, directing somebody to do something which would otherwise be illegal, just so they will be prosecuted by somebody else is not in the execution of their duty.

In a disorganised situation it's always difficult to know whose doing what and some people are probably inevitably going to feel hard done by, but it would be a brave police commander who would organise people to do something like that intentionally.

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Postby Phil_Lee » 11 Oct 2008, 9:04pm

If the police were directing cyclists to proceed though red traffic lights, the accused should summon the multitude of CM riders who can testify to that fact as witnesses when he appeals the fine at the magistrates court.

Certainly looks like a setup to me, and one which the police should be prosecuted for (see perjury, on another thread).

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Postby Richard » 11 Oct 2008, 11:04pm

Once again a technicality (and my apologies because I've not read the other thread) but perjury is lying in court and wouldn't apply in this scenario unless the police officer gave false evidence.
The cyclist wouldn't know whether the officer directing him to go through the red light was acting in his lawful duty or not. Consequently he did what was expected ie follow the directions of the constable. He would need to prove that he was directed by the officer to go through the red light in order not to be convicted.

An interesting question would be as to whether he'd be convicted if he still jumped the red light knowing that the officer was not acting lawfully by giving him instructions to do so.

As to the offence the officers commit - well this prompted me to get out my Blackstones Police Law book - I have to say I'm not sure but apart from disciplinary offences I'd probably go for Wilful Misconduct in a Public Office. What's your view thirdcrank?

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Postby 2Tubs » 12 Oct 2008, 12:59am

The guy in the video didn't say that he'd been directed to cross the lights on red by the police, and surely you would if that was the case.

He said that everyone was doing it, so why pick on him?

Not quite the same thing.

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Postby Phil_Lee » 12 Oct 2008, 2:57am

Richard wrote:Once again a technicality (and my apologies because I've not read the other thread) but perjury is lying in court and wouldn't apply in this scenario unless the police officer gave false evidence.
The cyclist wouldn't know whether the officer directing him to go through the red light was acting in his lawful duty or not. Consequently he did what was expected ie follow the directions of the constable. He would need to prove that he was directed by the officer to go through the red light in order not to be convicted.

An interesting question would be as to whether he'd be convicted if he still jumped the red light knowing that the officer was not acting lawfully by giving him instructions to do so.

As to the offence the officers commit - well this prompted me to get out my Blackstones Police Law book - I have to say I'm not sure but apart from disciplinary offences I'd probably go for Wilful Misconduct in a Public Office. What's your view thirdcrank?


Surely the opposite, unless we have adopted "guilty until proven innocent"?

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Postby Phil_Lee » 12 Oct 2008, 3:04am

2Tubs wrote:The guy in the video didn't say that he'd been directed to cross the lights on red by the police, and surely you would if that was the case.

He said that everyone was doing it, so why pick on him?

Not quite the same thing.

Gazza


He also says that the police escorting the ride were doing it, which means it is reasonable to assume that he is being marshalled by them.

I believe there is a precedent involving police escorted large vehicles and level crossings that may be appropriate.

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Postby thirdcrank » 12 Oct 2008, 8:35am

I've not seen the video - on the couple of times I've tried it's come up with something about trying later.

I assumed from what was being said that one lot of police were directing traffic to ignore the lights and more were issuing tickets to anybody who did. If we are now saying that one instance of traffic control was taken as the general signal for a lot of people to enjoy themselves all evening, it's obviously a different matter.

I've no idea how well planned the police traffic operation was. Since the whole thing about CM is that it may go just about anywhere - and there is of course a case about this said to be going to appeal - it's hardly surprising that things may not be co-ordinated.

Since I've not now much idea of what happened, I've little interest in speculating what caused it. I'd find it really hard to believe that an official plan would involve what has been alleged; apart from anything else there would be so many people involved it would inevitably be leaked. I don't suppose anybody who has already made up their mind is going to listen to me anyway.

I suppose we all approach this sort of thing from different perspectives. If somebody is convinced that everything the police do is motivated by malice, then they will inevitably believe everything that seems to justify that view. I like to think I'm ready to be convinced, but I do like to have credible evidence.

(I understand the police discipline code has been changed recently so I'm out of date there. I've never been involved - on either side - in a prosecution for public office offences, but I'm pretty sure there would be something to punish what is being alleged by some here.)

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Postby Wildduck » 12 Oct 2008, 8:51am

Ditto
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Postby thirdcrank » 12 Oct 2008, 9:07am

I would just add: I'm not suggesting that it would be the risk of a leak which would be the only thing to prevent this. I think that if it had happened in the way that is being alleged, then the story would by now have been well and truly leaked and milked for all it was worth. There is so much potential newsworthiness - lycra louts caught in corrupt police plot to raise revenue with tickets - that if it's been in some obscure youtube archive and only just been discovered, then it's something of a fairytale.

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Postby GeoffL » 12 Oct 2008, 6:58pm

Phil_Lee wrote:Surely the opposite, unless we have adopted "guilty until proven innocent"?

Pragmatically, that's what we have with some traffic law. The "offending" legislation relates to a general action (or inaction) that gives rise to the offence, but also provides specific defences. If the facts are that the general act occurred, the onus is then on the individual to prove a specific defence on the balance of probability. For example, with S172 offences (failure to disclose the identity of the driver) it is a defence that the registered keeper did not and could not know the identity of the driver having exercised due diligence. However, the keeper must prove that defence (as opposed to the prosecution having to prove that the keeper could have provided the info), and the accused is thus guilty unless proven innocent. That said, the standard of proof is "on the balance of probability" and not "beyond reasonable doubt".

In this case of red light jumping, it seems that the accused crossing on red is not disputed. It is a valid defence that a police officer in uniform directed you to do it. However, the onus is on the accused to prove that's what happened rather than for the prosecution to prove that it didn't. That is, pragmatically, the accused is guilty unless proven innocent.

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Postby kwackers » 12 Oct 2008, 7:24pm

GeoffL wrote:In this case of red light jumping, it seems that the accused crossing on red is not disputed. It is a valid defence that a police officer in uniform directed you to do it. However, the onus is on the accused to prove that's what happened rather than for the prosecution to prove that it didn't. That is, pragmatically, the accused is guilty unless proven innocent.

Geoff


Perhaps after simple bullying has failed (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oUkiyBVytRQ) the police have now decided on a more discreet system of expressing their frustration...

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Postby thirdcrank » 12 Oct 2008, 8:24pm

GeoffL

Clearly, there are some things - probably fewer than there once were with the arrival of computers - where ultimately, only the defendant knows the answer. Once upon a time, the example always given for training purposes was third party insurance. If the police have some proper reason to want to see it, and for some reason the defendant never produces any or an exemption, then in the end the only answer is a summons. It would be impossible for the prosecution to prove that no insurance existed.

In general, and I've never heard it suggested that traffic lights, or the police directing traffic is any different, it is up to the prosecution to prove a case 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Now, a police officer giving evidence that they had seen the defendant riding through red traffic lights which were working correctly would, on its own, be compelling evidence. In fact, the officer's evidence would also include any interview he conducted when he stopped the defendant. Bearing in mind that the caution now includes the bit about mentioning now things relied on at court, it might be reasonable to expect our cyclist to point out that he had been directed to ignore the traffic lights by another police officer. (For a successful prosecution for failing to conform with the traffic light, a notice of intended prosecution would also be required, at the time or within fourteen days.)

Once the allegation had been made about the police officer directing traffic to ignore the light, a prosecution file would have to cover the point. I cannot see a prosecutor going into court with a file without knowing what evidence was available on the point. It's my impression that the Crown Prosecution Service is more circumspect about accepting police evidence than might have been the case previously. Depending on the circumstances, I find it hard to see how the case would be taken unless the reporting officer - who must have had a clear view of the lights to report anybody for riding through them - could say they could clearly see that there was no other police officer there directing traffic or, another officer who was on duty by the junction gave that evidence. In other words, if the cyclist's explanation could not be rebutted, I think the case would never get to court.

If the case did go to court, and if the defendant were to be properly represented, it would be one of the first things the reporting officer would be cross examined about. (In legal terms the evidence of witnesses is assumed to be accepted by the other side unless challenged by cross examination.) At the end of the prosecution case the defence might make a submission of 'no case to answer'. Unless the prosecution had satisfied the court that there was a convincing case, the matter would stop there. If the court did not accept the submission or if none were made, the defence could call the defendant and as many other witnesses as they felt were helpful. If the defendant gave evidence that he had been directed to pass the light at red by the police and that is why he had done so and if he continued with that explanation when cross examined it would be a matter for the court to decide bearing in mind that the onus is on the prosecution to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. All the defence has to do is raise a reasonable doubt. This is something that I don't think has anything to do with the balance of probabilities.

I do know that anybody who is convinced that the entire legal system from the Lord Chief Justice down to a process clerk is corrupt and all the rest of it will believe that everything is decided in spite of the evidence. I cannot help that.