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Do police really need a reason to stop you?  
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - ifithelps
I ask the question after watching one of the Motorway Cops programmes.

The patrolmen are following a driver they suspect of drink driving, but the narrator says they need a reason to stop him.

One of the policemen spots the driver is not wearing a seatbelt, which, we are told, is the reason they need to pull the driver over.

Is this right, or was it just going through the motions for the cameras?

If anyone else saw the programme, it was the guy who had recently run out of petrol and who eventually blew just under the limit.

Tags: owning petrol or diesel? driving techniques

Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Westpig
depends i.e. on what circumstances you're going to stop someone

for drink/driving you'd need to establish either:
1, moving traffic offence..e.g. 31mph in 30mph limit...or
2, something to suspect them of having committed that offence e.g. poor lane control
(3, relates to after an accident, so not relevant to your qstn)

there are other reasons to stop cars e.g. under Road Traffic Act establish whether driver has insurance or driving licence....once you've done that, you'd notice drink on their breath and could then revert to 2, above

then there's criminality, if you thought a car was stolen for example, stopped it, then smelt drink etc (but you'd have to have something to fuel your suspicions, you can't just state "Hey, that one might be stolen").

In reality there are more than sufficient powers to stop drink/drivers....which just goes to show how out of touch politicians are when they bluster about new laws for random stop/checks...if you can stop any car you like to see if it has insurance, why would you need another power, when talking to the driver will give you an idea whether or not they've had a drink

Do police really need a reason to stop you? - ifithelps
Westpig,

Thanks for that.

I was thinking more about being stopped in general, not just on suspicion of drink driving.

Someone told me years ago that if I was stopped, the officer had to give a reason.

From your post, looks like there are plenty of reasons an experienced officer could come up with.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - smokie
When I was stopped many years ago, the reason given was "we are having lots of cars like yours stolen round here so are just checking up".

Seemed a bit of a flimsy excuse and not sure if it would work these days...
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - gordonbennet
Does the 'routine check' not apply any more, got stopped a few times when younger for that reason.

Sure ive said before, got pulled up in my Landcruiser by a couple of very cheery officers in the early hours on my way home from night shift quite close to a notorious (for stolen cars esp 4x4's) itinerant spot.
They told me quite openly they were checking my car was not nicked before reaching that place...once they were happy i was who i claimed to be they bade me farewell, seemed like good policing to me regardless whether they'd ticked all the boxes, and i was grateful for their observation.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - fredthefifth

I have always considered that in law the answer is yes, in reality the answer is no.

But I don't have a problem with that. Suspicion should be good enough IMHO, though I appreciate that victimisation can be an issue and probably the reason for the law. Another case of law being changed or conceived because of the behaviour of the few.

FTF
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - NowWheels
Driving around in Ireland this summer, I was surprised by the number of Garda Síochána roadblocks. I drove about 4000km in 4 weeks, and encountered at least six such roadblocks in which all traffic in both directions was stopped. The usual recipe is a patrol car parked in the middle of the road with driver at the wheel, and one officer for each lane of traffic.

I don't recall ever encountering such a thing in the UK, so maybe the Gardaí have more powers to do this. They appear to be mostly looking for cars without tax or insurance discs, or for UK-registered cars which have spent too long in Ireland (vehicle taxes are higher in Ireland, so some people try fiddling the system).
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - retgwte


Re "I don't recall ever encountering such a thing in the UK" I have been stopped a number of times in such a roadblock, normally as the pubs are shutting and they are trying to catch drink drivers, always makes me laugh when i get brethalysed after half a shandy and show up green, not entirely sure they really have the powers to do this but they seem to get away with it, much easier for them to hassle drivers than pedestrians

And if you know any decent copper there are an easy set of excuses for stopping any driver or indeed pedestrian, and indeed fairly easy ways of arresting people if nothing obvious springs to mind, so they may as well have short term catch all powers

The biggest joke is the city centre knife scanners, where they just dont have the powers to force you down that path like they try to convince you they have, I've made it plain to them they are exceeding their powers big time and walked off and they have never challenged me mainly because I'm sure I am right - knowing some coppers they already know where the thugs carrying knifes hang out if they just went and got them it would save a lot of hassle (im sure various politically correct management dictats stop this)

cannot be easy being a copper in this country

i prefer the system in chicago where they are quite happy to shoot someone they spot nicking a car stereo, but the decent folk just about always get left alone



Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Dwight Van Driver
I draw you attention to :

Section 163, Road Traffic Act 1988 which states:

Power of police to stop vehicles

(1) A person driving a motor vehicle on a road must stop the vehicle on being required to do so by a constable in uniform.

(2) A person riding a cycle on a road must stop the cycle on being required to do so by a constable in uniform.

(3) If a person fails to comply with this section he is guilty of an offence.

Note the absence of any reason for doing to.

Whilst Wetspig gives various reasons these are the power to demand a breath test. Which means on a general stop as above one smells alcohol on the breath of the driver then power to test. Which also means a 'random' test secenario virtually exists.

dvd


Do police really need a reason to stop you? - NowWheels
Do I understand this right, DVD?

A constable can stop a car without reason (which allows roadblocks to used), but if anything then becomes evident which arouses suspicion, further powers may kick in to allow breath-testing or whatever.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Simon
I remember watching one of those police programs where they stopped a young-ish youth in a car claiming or using the reason that one of his rear lights or brake lights wasn't working. Then magically as soon as they had him stopped the light in question was working just fine.

I don't know if that was a genuine conincidence, whether it was just used as a (bogus) reason to stop him or what. If I remember correctly the TV footage didn't show any bits with the car travelling along with a defective light.

My point is, if they don't have a proper valid reason to stop you, its not hard to find an excuse that will do the job.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Dwight Van Driver
Nowheels:

Road Blocks are a different kettle of fish and under PACE have to be authorised.

May I add before Pug Ugly shoots me down that in Beard v Wood [1980] it was held that the power is available providing that the PC is not acting capriciously but in a bona fide manner. A driver is under a duty to keep a vehicle at a standstill whilst a PC has a reasonable opportunity to excercise the power i.e. arrest detain a stolen vehicle, ask for documents etc etc etc .

dvd
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Lud
As Westpig says, there are ample standing reasons (or excuses or pretexts) for stopping a car to see if the driver is ripped on something or 'not the owner of the vehicle'.

I have several times, when parting from the officer concerned, asked why I was stopped in the first place. In all cases where the reason wasn't obvious (squealing your tyres in front of a copper, going too fast, etc.) the reply has been a mysterious, slightly malicious smile and a brush-off. I've asked the same question when pulled by customs at Dover, with the same slightly irritating response.

I'm afraid some people just exude a dodgy vibe, and something tells me that I am one of them, at least when the Old Bill have nothing much to do and want some amusement.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - The Driver
About ten years ago I was stopped at a very obvious "road block" on a little used (but main road) alternative route. Two PCs stood alongside a marked transit van at 1am. Loads of questions to get you talking for drink assesment. I had not had a drink for days but had a car full of very merry people being taken home from a office christmas party that I had not attended (obvious by my dress). When the younger PCs questions got so personal about my wife (In the car) that I protested, his older (and wiser) collegue physically pulled him away from my car window and thanked me for my help and wished me a safe journey. I am sure they were not traffic police. Road blocks, yes they do, in my area anyway.

Edited by Old Navy on 12/09/2009 at 15:16

Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Harleyman
I remember watching one of those police programs where they stopped a young-ish youth in
a car using the reason that one of his rear lights or brake
lights wasn't working.


I really do wish they'd do that more often. For one thing it would improve the dismal standards of lighting maintenance on vehicles in the UK (cue the inevitable sob stories about 2 hours to change a bulb ;-) ) and following on from that, human nature dictates that if people are careless about that then they'll be careless about other things like having one too many.

I daresay there will be Elf 'n'Safety reasons why it doesn't happen.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Westpig
Whilst Westpig gives various reasons ....


Thankyou DVD...i'm afraid I went down a rather narrow path re drink drive stops and re reading it, it could have made more sense

Do police really need a reason to stop you? - The Driver
I have just remembered, I was stopped at a roadblock at 3am at the bottom of the Rest and be Thankful, No problem once I had identified myself as returning from a well known (to them) military site. I later found out that there had been a robbery on the Mull of Kintyre and that is one of the few routes off the peninsula, likewise at the southern end of Glen Coe after a robbery in Fort William. Those blocks are fair enough.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - diddy1234
I was pulled once at 2.30am after dropping my parents off at the airport (for a 'routine check').

the kind policeman then wouldn't believe that I was dropping my parents off at the airport and lent into the car and took the ignition keys out of my car (before I was even invited got out).

They then asked for documents (which I just happened to have my driving license on me at the time) and turfed my car upside down onto the road side.

They checked the glove box, ignition barrel, hand brake, under the seats, lifted up the back seats, turfed everything in the boot out onto the road and checked the tyres.

Once not satisfied I then got a real grilling for driving out on the road at 2.30am and blatantly told me that they did not believe a word I was saying about dropping my parents off at the airport.

These policemen were clearly not happy that they found everything in order and I was told that I could go on my way quickly, yet I was left to put everything back into the car (including spare tyre, everything back in the glove box etc)

To this day I do not understand why I was treated like pink fluffy dice and yet I had done nothing wrong.

This is why I have a slight uneasy feeling about the police in general.

The next guy was not so lucky as his typical chav style driving got him a severe grilling as he almost ran over the policeman standing in the road.

Edited by Webmaster on 14/09/2009 at 01:00

Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Lud
Friend of mine was once stopped by the police in Northwich, Cheshire, while out walking in the small hours. He said he was out for a walk. The copper or coppers said disapprovingly that it was a bit late to be out for a walk.

None have ever been so foolhardy as to say anything like that to me. But I live in hope...

:o}
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - stunorthants26
Strange that we now have a curfew that nobody told us about. Im always suspicious of people who seek power over others anyway.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Robin Reliant
The silliest stop I ever got was while working as a Park Ranger. The PC looked about fifteen, was on foot and flagged me down at the side of the road as I left a petrol station on the firms Suzuki 185. I was in uniform, the bike was liveried up with the borough's stickers all over it and I had a radio happily babbling away in the background, yet he still gave me a producer and I had to attend the local cop shop with all the documents.

The guy behind the desk found it quite amusing.

Edited by Robin Reliant on 12/09/2009 at 20:30

Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Pat L
I've been driving for over 30 years and have been pulled over for a breath test in this country twice. Once late at night and the other mid-afternoon.

I was in Australia over most of the summer and they have Random Breath Testing (RBT) as a matter of course. In Queensland I passed one RBT set-up but was pulled over at the next one about 4 miles away. They pulled in almost every car to a lay-by and the driver had to give a breath sample. Each 'check' took about 30 seconds. This was at approx 5pm on a Saturday and we'd been out on a boat fishing around the Whitsunday Islands (wow!!) and over the course of the day I'd had a couple of 'tinnies' but passed the RBT. (phew!) The police need no reason to stop you - it's literally random.

I think we should have this approach in this country, especially in rural areas where the police presence is much lower. (As an aside I think the liberal/civil rights/do-gooders don't help in the fight against crime in the UK).
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - b308
Strange that we now have a curfew that nobody told us about.


No curfew, but who's most likely to be out in the early hours? Drunks and theives... so if they come across a sober person which one are they likely to be?

Or it could be me on my way home from a late shift...!!

Damned if they do, damned if they don't again I feel...
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Alby Back
A friend of many years ago was at that time head of banqueting at a very famous and posh golf / country club hotel in Perthshire.

His work attire was a dinner suit. By the very nature of his job he often finished work well after midnight. he lived quite a distance away in Edinburgh but the commute was not too bad due to the quiet times he was on the road.

He was pulled over countless times on the way home. A young bloke in a dinner suit driving home late at night.......

"Been drinking have we sir ? "

" No such luck I'm afraid "

" Blow in the bag anyway please sir "

" OK - Please yourself, I know the drill..... "

;-)
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - stunorthants26
>>No curfew, but who's most likely to be out in the early hours? Drunks and theives... so if they come across a sober person which one are they likely to be? <<

I think thats a somewhat simplistic view as there are many, many people who work nights in this country and Im afraid the idea that thieves and their ilk skulk around only in the wee small hours is a great fairy tale, but in reality, they do come out in the daylight aswell.
There are an infinate number of reasons why someone may be driving at night and to make blind assumptions based on the time is very unwise. To make comment that someone has any less right to be out at night is overstepping a very big mark.
Unless you have or are intending to commit a crime, the Police have no right to tell you not to be out at a certain hour. Power crazy individuals some of them clearly.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - paul2007
DVD

As true as it get. My brother is a patrol officer. They can stop anyone, and take breath test if smelling of booze - or take drug test or ooze test if appearing to be unsteady/etc.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Dwight Van Driver
Paul

We are talking about is the power of Plod to STOP a vehicle.

Regarding what you say there are certain circumstances that have to be fullfilled for him to require a breath test.

If you are stopped and have no alcohol in your body, have not been involved in an accident or committed a moving traffic offence then he cannot ask you to blow.

dvd
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - davecuk
>> If you are stopped and have no alcohol in your body have not been involved
in an accident or committed a moving traffic offence then he cannot ask you to
blow.


They only need cause to believe you may have been drinking (and how are you going to prove they didn't), he can then ask you to blow. It would be a foolish person who refuses.....

On the roads the police are a law unto themselves and like most normal people, there are good and bad.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - barney100
If they want to stop you they will, dead easy to come up with a spurious reason. I guess the majority of police are ok but I'm sure there is the odd wrong one.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Westpig
have a think about it....why would you want a sober person to blow into a breath machine...you'd be wasting your own time as well as theirs, what would be the point?

you pay, via your taxes, for night shift cops to be suspicious and to be out there trying to catch people out...if they stop someone by mistake e.g someone doing 31mph in 30mph limit provides the excuse for a breath test (moving traffic offence) and then you find Mr & Mrs Normal who haven't had a drop...you just tell them it's a routine stop and send them on their way...then carry on looking for the bloke who's wasted...isn't that what you want them to do?

if Mr & Mrs Normal were then to moan about it..they need to think more laterally i.e. that officer is trying to do his/her bit to keep the roads safe for them to drive about on without some drunk clown wiping them out
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Altea Ego
"if they stop someone by mistake e.g someone doing 31mph in 30mph limit provides the excuse for a breath test (moving traffic offence) and then you find Mr & Mrs Normal who haven't had a drop..."

A good copper with his antennai working correctly wouldnt pull mr or mrs normal in the first place.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Fullchat
Unless of course the batteries in their night vision goggles and hindsight equipment had failed.

And of course examples of Mr and Mrs Normal - Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, Fred and Rosemary West, Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr to name but a few.

Edited by Fullchat on 13/09/2009 at 21:42

Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Lud
to name but a few.


Heavens Fullchat you wicked old boy in blue you...

Would many of us have seen any of those, except perhaps the very last named, as Mr or Mrs normal? I doubt it.

But I suspect you of provocation here...

:o}
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - NowWheels
A good copper with his antennai working correctly wouldnt pull mr or mrs normal in
the first place.


Mr and Mrs Normal never have a few drinks too many before taking to the road, do they?

In any case, it all depends how you define normal. Is it a white, middle-aged, middle class, heterosexual couple? And if so is it okay to keep on stopping black people many more times than white people?
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Bilboman
"Damned if they do, damned if they don't". If my car had been stolen and I'd heard that in a separate incident, thanks to rigourous and attentive policing, a lucky "random" stop (of a youngish-looking driver in a large powerful car, whatever...) had produced a collar and a result, I'd think that the "system" was working.
If, however, a call to the local cop shop produced no action, if I found out that the average copper spends 75% of a shift in mindless, needless government-mandated paperwork and that the county force's "crime clear up rate" was largely based on zapping speeding drivers - I'd be very, very annoyed.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Westpig
>> In any case it all depends how you define normal. >>

deep sigh.......maybe i should have called them Mr & Mrs 'Haven't done anything wrong and certainly haven't had a drink'.

P.S. Was the bit about stopping black/white people really necessary for this site? Why not pen something on a police forum or maybe even a political one. I deliberately haven't answered it as it's an unnecessary thread drift.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - NowWheels
P.S. Was the bit about stopping black/white people really necessary for this site? Why not
pen something on a police forum or maybe even a political one. I deliberately haven't
answered it as it's an unnecessary thread drift.


It's a motoring issue, relevant to discussing how people are assessed as "normal" when deciding to stop them. I have several black friends in London who are professional middle-class people driving nice cars (e.g. one has a newish Alfa, another a newish BMW), and they are forever being stopped by police who are clearly concerned that a black person driving a nice car might not be doing so legitimately.

My favourite example of this was about 5 years ago when a Conservative-voting black man with a bit of a public profile was driving to lunch with a political journalist to discuss this business of police reactions to black people. He was stopped and quizzed on the way to lunch. :(

My Asian friends here in Yorkshire are stopped so often that they hardly find it worthy of comment unless asked.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Snakey
Presumably if they want to pull you over, then the reason can be made up later.

I.e If they think you're up to no good, they can pull you on the pretext that they thought you weren't wearing a seatbelt or something similar and if you are, then an apology (after checking your breath!) and off you go.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Westpig
NW,

My comment as to 'normal', in the context I was posting, meant people in the car, that it becomes apparent only after you've stopped them that they are not guilty of any offence or suspected offence i.e. you wouldn't know so until you've stopped them, because being at night you can't see into the car. That scenario can and often is quite easily applied to people of all walks of life and backgrounds and as you weren't able to see who was in the car in the first place, it would be difficult to be racially selective....hence my indignation that you've raised it as an issue.

Stopping people from a particular racial profile, purely because they would be unlikely to be able to afford a 'nice car' or any similar kind of connotation is so old hat as to be laughable. ..in excess of 25 years at least....times have moved on, thankfully.

...but then I suspect you already know that

P.S. I'm not saying that every cop is a saint and there aren't some with stereotypical views, statistically there'd have to be, wouldn't there

Do police really need a reason to stop you? - NowWheels
Stopping people from a particular racial profile purely because they would be unlikely to be
able to afford a 'nice car' or any similar kind of connotation is so old
hat as to be laughable. ..in excess of 25 years at least....times have moved on
thankfully.
...but then I suspect you already know that


No, I didn't, because sadly it's not true.

I'm not saying that you personally are setting out to nab people on the basis of racial profiling. But the experiences of black and asian people tell a rather different story to the good intentions of so many decent officers like yourself, and those accounts are backed up police statistics.

For example, I googled www.google.co.uk/search?q=black+stopped+by+policea...d the first link was from 2007: www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-182398107.html

"BLACK people in Peterborough are almost three times more likely to be stopped by police than white people.
The alarming research carried out by Cambridgeshire Constabulary also showed Asians were almost twice as likely to be stopped by police in the city than white people."


In 2002, there are several reports like this one: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/1986484.stm ... and here's a link from 1999: www.independent.co.uk/news/driver-stopped-34-times...l

I haven't done a thorough search, and hopefully things have been improving in recent years after all the work put into diversity training and monitoring for police. But you don't have to go back 25 years to find plenty of evidence of a serious problem.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - oldnotbold
To put it the other way round - "Don't give the police a reason to stop you if you have something to hide"

Mate's last day on the area car in W London before moving to a job in a suit. Stops a car with a brake light out. Guy fails the attitude test, so starts digging inside the car. One thing leads to another and a warrant is issued to search his address. Nine illegal immigrants found, all trafficked for nasty reasons. Long spell inside for the driver, and for his accomplices.

So when you are stopped, pass that attitude test, fast!
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Pugugly
For clarity is this Stop and Account checks (or their predecessors) or vehicle stops?
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Westpig
NW,

There can be many reasons for disproportionality of statistics, although i'm not convinced this is the forum for it.

Briefly, as an example, where I work.... well after midnight, often up to 0500 hours..... there is a seemingly endless procession of folk driving home from night clubs. There's apparently a 'scene' whereby people of a quite varied age group (some even as old as me) habitually visit these night clubs. Now the part of society that enjoy this form of socialising also seem to like to drive nice cars....and they all fit one racial group.

Now the trouble is, my Borough has a noticeable burglary problem, whereby the car keys are stolen for something nice and the vehicle driven off in the small hours, often without the occs knowing.....so we target those types of vehicles in the small hours.

You can probably guess where i'm going.... from my wholly unscientific example, there'd definitely be a disproportionate number of one racial group stopped in their cars...and they don't necessarily fit the descriptions of those previously acknowledged to have committed that burglary crime....but you can't tell someone's racial profile at 50mph, at night, with an oncoming headlight...or same speed, with a sideway's glance with a reflection off the window and a dark interior.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - NowWheels
Westpig, I know what you mean. In the Asian areas of Bradford, some of the disaffected youth have a bit of culture of vehicle crime like you describe, and I can see how that can skew the statistics.

But that doesn't account for black professionals in London getting hauled in far more than their white neighbours. Despite all the progress that's been made since the Macpherson Report, here are still too many police with an attitude problem about non-white people.

Edited by NowWheels on 14/09/2009 at 19:24

Do police really need a reason to stop you? - Harleyman
Despite all the progress that's been made since the Macpherson Report here
are still too many police with an attitude problem about non-white people.


And, to be fair, there are still too many young coloured (and white) people with a perceptible attitude problem towards both the police and society in general.

One begets t'other, a vicious circle which shows no real signs of ever being broken.
Do police really need a reason to stop you? - zookeeper
apparently racist attitudes are rife in certain parts of the uk, this happened just up the road from me,

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1059780/Black-far...l

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