Temporary Deputy Chief Constable, Ian Shannon admits not understanding this important issue, clearly any actions or decisions on this basis constitute a recipe for mistakes.
It is worrying that he admits to not understanding this simple issue as it is so fundamental to a broad range of policing activities, we must have concerns about the quality and selection of senior officers if they don’t understand it.
The fundamental fault is the police are attempting to impose something upon riders that is outside police mandatory powers. This is bound to create problems.
If the police wish to promote some form of driver training, beyond that required by law, then they can only do so by attempting to engage their target audience on a voluntary basis.
In the UK, as in all free societies, the freedom for people go about their business without let or hindrance is a fundamental hallmark of our societies values. It is necessary that the police have powers to occasionally detain someone against their will, but such a fundamental challenge to liberty has to be treated with great respect by those exercising it and the law is very specific about when and how it may be applied. The police behaviour described by Ian Shannon is clearly not complying with those laws.
Ian Shannon refers to Section 163 of the Road Traffic Act as a police “power”. This is a misconception; section 163 creates an obligation upon the driver of a vehicle to stop if instructed to do so by a police constable in uniform. All would agree that it is a sensible and required obligation.
However it does not define the conditions necessary for the police to require a driver to stop. Clearly the police cannot stop vehicles upon any capricious whim, the section on its own does not create a police “power” and any stop has to be necessary in the course of a policeman executing some other duty.
The police have obligations upon how they exercise the authority they are given and clearly the stop has to comply with those responsibilities. These powers need to be treated with respect.
Section 163 only covers the act of stopping. It does not give any power to “detain” however Ian Shannon is trying to mislead us to believe that it does and that power includes the promotion of advanced driver training. It is untrue.