The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill is now at the report stage in the House of Lords, close to becoming law. It's a badly drafted bill with many clauses that will severely restrict civil liberties and it's shocking how it has got so far through the legislative process without being derailed. Anti-social behaviour orders are to be replaced by Ipnas, Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance, which could be used by the state to oppress anybody (not rich people, obviously). Journalist and campaigner George Monbiot has written a very good article on the dangers within the bill, of which there are many, but as this is bicycle news website we shall focus on just the dangers posed to cyclists.
As BikeBiz.com has previously reported, and billed as 'Reflectorgate', the bill introduces new powers for police community support officers. They will be able to stop and fine cyclists for offences including not having British Standard reflectors on their pedals. Strictly speaking, all cyclists who ride after dark must have pedal reflectors fitted even though they cannot be easily fitted to modern clipless pedals. Currently, police officers do not tend to stop and fine cyclists for this offence - sensibly, they tend to prefer that cyclists are visible and use lights - but in future "blitzes" and "crackdowns" PCSOs could use these new powers to stop and fine cyclists who may be kitted out with hundreds of pounds worth of lights but who don't have pedal reflectors fitted.
In order to secure policy committments from the Government, later today Lord Berkeley, a member of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, will be tabling some legislative amendments. They are intended to be withdrawn if the Government agrees to the policy commitments. Lord Berkeley has been advised by CTC.
Lord Berkeley will be seeking:
* To persuade the Government not to bring into effect the power for PCSOs to fine cyclists for lighting/reflector offences until the relevant regs have been updated;
* To seek an assurance that PCSOs who are given powers to enforce lighting offences can still do what ordinary police officers do in many areas, namely to give out a fine that can be rescinded if the cyclist without lights turns up at a police station with a working set of lights within (say) 5 working days of the offence being committed;
* To make a wider point about the need for PCSOs to receive cycle-awareness training - and preferably actual cycle training - if they are to be given powers to enforce cycling offences;
Roger Geffen, CTC's Campaigns & Policy Director, said: "If we are ultimately not objecting to PCSOs having enforcement powers over various motoring and cycling offences, then we should add the enforcement of Advance Stop Lines to the list of offences they can enforce."
Meanwhile, the Bicycle Association has pressed the Department for Transport to update the lighting regulations for cycles, clearing up many of the anolmalies that currently exist, including the requirement for pedal and other reflectors.