back to article North Wales Police says the law is what they say it is

North Wales Police are quite happy to assert that the law is what a police constable says it is – as opposed to what is written in statute. This is backed up by a polite note from their Press Department, and what appears to be a slightly less polite piece of online blogging from the Police Constable whose public behaviour raised …


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  1. Ted Treen
    Big Brother

    Plus ça change...

    "Our investigation found that North Wales Police procedures for dealing with counter-allegations of criminal behaviour were very poor" Tom Davies, IPCC

    From the above report -

    "Following the North Wales Police criminal investigation the complainant was charged with affray and possession of an offensive weapon. But the charges were dropped when they came to trial at Mold Crown Court in July 2006."

    There's a surprise. The spirit of Brunstrom is alive & well.

  2. The Original Ash

    MCN is not a reputable news source

    MCN is the biker equivalent of the Daily Fail. Everyone is "out to get them" in their eyes; Police, Govt, hell I'm surprised they've not done an article on how illegal immigrants are taking over the roads and making biking less safe. No doubt they'd spin it on them not having driving licenses, or some such.

    "Under what powers..." "Don't take a picture of me, you're compromising my safety." "Under what powers..." "Don't take a picture of me, you're compromising my safety." "Under what powers..." "Don't take a picture of me, you're compromising my safety." *Takes picture*

    Who was ignoring who?

    *N.B. Not defending the officer taking the camera, just the inflationary nature of MCN "journalism" style. I don't do things Police Officers ask me not to do out of respect for the job, and I've no reason not to respect them as I've had nothing but good experiences. This guy was just itching for a bit of "Dem gubment keepin uz bikers down!!11"

    Plus, quoting MCN lessens you. Stop it.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This should be fun

    Can't wait for the fall out.

  4. SuperTim


    So this "firmer stance" means that they can ask you to do anything at all, and if you refuse they feel justified in forcing the issue?

    NWP are typical of the police assuming they are the "law". Most of them have no idea of the statutes and operate a "Flavour of the month" approach to policing.

    "Right lads, this month it's bikers with cameras. The law says we can give 'em a kicking under section 44, cos they're terrorists you see."

    "There's lovely sarge. Can i use my Pepper spray on them?"

    "Sorry Dai, they have helmets on, better to baton them in the knees!"

  5. Stef 4


    Well, I'm glad that's all cleared up now.

    Is Superintendent Shaw's real title "Propaganda officer" or "Officer for Obfuscation"?

  6. Monty Burns


    Sadly Ash, I have to totaly agree with you. MCN whilst a great read is full of "they hate us, lets take the fight to them!" to just about any person who says "Bikers are wankers!". MCN can and do, do a lot of good but they can seem to go one step too far, sadly.

    I'm a biker and I ride fast bikes and probably will until the day I die (probably on it!) but, I will always read MCN with a shovel full of salt and realise there is actually another side to the story - something MCN don't always get.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re:MCN is not a reputable news source

    MCN may well not be a reputable source, but NWP do not have a stellar record and there are too many of these stories in general for every one to be a gross exaggeration or fabrication. You may well have positive experiences of the police, but that is not universal. Being on the wrong end of a copper or two overstepping their authority does tend to make you a little less likely to oblige the next time they make a polite but legally incorrect request of you. If the police are now dealing with a relatively confrontational public these days, they have no one but themselves - and Labour's poorly drafted law - to blame.

    When the police start respecting both the spirit and letter of the law, I'll start respecting them.

  8. Belvedere Mulholland

    @ Original Ash

    >>>"Under what powers..." "Don't take a picture of me, you're compromising my safety." "Under what powers..." "Don't take a picture of me, you're compromising my safety." "Under what powers..." "Don't take a picture of me, you're compromising my safety." *Takes picture*

    That isn't the story.

    The police were happy to be snapped w/o licence plate (which is nonsense because you don't need a photo of a licence plate to know what the number is).

    A dialogue with a policeman (as a public servant) is not simply a question of him coming up with a convincing argument (which he didn't). He also needs to act under the law, which he didn't.

    You can't make the law up afterwards.

    I'm sure MCN are evil etc. but it makes no difference to the facts.

  9. The Beer Monster

    @The Original Ash

    Yes, MCN has the reputation of being "More Crap than News". However, that doesn't make everything they say or do incorrect.

    As for your ""Dem gubment keepin uz bikers down!!11" comment you appear to be mistaking bikers for chavs on scooters.

  10. Eden

    @Batton them in the knees

    Actually any responsible biker will be wearing shin/knee armour as well so no joy there I'm afraid.

    Personally I think it's just the issue with them assuming powers they don't have and confiscating equipment in general but that said if I identified a car as a firearms vehicle and was asked by said officer not to take photos with the intention of publishing them, especially if the vehicle was unmarked, then I'd have to say I can understand they'd get irate if I refused.

    If however it was a marked vehicle I really can't see the issue =/.

  11. Andrew Halliwell
    Paris Hilton

    @Monty Burns

    To be fair a LITTLE bit to them, they're not paranoid without reason.

    The gubmint ARE out to discourage motorcycling... Which in this day and age of green issues and fuel prices is a fuckin stupid thing to do.

    It's been going on for years. In the 70s/early 80s, they changed the rules on learners, reducing the maximum CC for a learner bike to 125 (it used to be 250), then they limited the horsepower for a bike to be learner legal. Then they made the tests harder, and harder, and harder...

    All the while, car driving tests remained the same.

    NOW they've implemented a NEW set of tests which can only be taken at dedicated test centres hundreds of miles away from people wanting to TAKE the tests and the tests themselves have been deemed dangerous causing several broken limbs in the first couple of weeks of operation.

    At one point they were trying to make it illegal to drive a bike without leg protectors. MAG campaigned against and won that one.

    Add to that the NWP attitude (stop any bikers you see whether they're doing anything wrong or not and let's try to get bikes banned from snowdonia national park) and it's bound to lead to a bit of paranoia.

    Paris, cos she's got no qualms about riding anything.

  12. dunncha

    I read the Liberity website last night

    thanks to the commenter that posted the link on here somewhere: Here it is again: maybe somebody else will read it.

    Clear concise explanations of what the Police are allowed and not allowed to do.

    I'm sure it must piss the Police off no end people knowing their rights but it is important because a minority of the Police can abuse their powers. 'You look very tall sir'

    I do hate speed traps but the argument with the Police is developing into a them and us situation. This isn't how it should be. We pay their wages and our politicians. They should do what WE tell them within the confines of the Law WE set.

    And I want a Policeman/women walking up my street occasionally to try and catch the toe-rags that keep breaking into cars and not just a bloody crime number.

    Vote for a change. Don't just blindly Vote for who you Voted for last time. Consider their promises and who is likely to deliver on their promises and Vote for them.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    What if they're not paranoid?

    What if everyone *is* out to get them? Judging by some of the comments here, it looks to me like they could be right... after all, how do *we* know Ash & Monty Burns aren't just shills for the Plod? Or that I'm not really a MCN journo, and "not.known" etc is just an alias?

    On the other hand, having nowt but a thin bit of soft, easily abradable stuff between you and passing traffic / nearby hard surfaces, it's hardly surprising bikers are, all-in-all, a pretty paranoid lot, is it?

    Seriously though, having been stopped on a nice wide road because I was too close to the kerb (according to Driver Plod) while also drviving along the white line (according to Passenger Plod) I can see why some people are a tad suspicious when talking to our friends in blue...

  14. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    But this story isn't about MCNs journalism standards...

    It's about the inadequate training of our Police forces to be able to enforce the law as dictated by Parliament, and their arrogance in assuming that they can do what they want to get their own way when encountering someone who obviously knows more about rights under statute law than the Police do.

    Just because a Police officer says "don't do that" doesn't mean you have to comply. You have a right to object, and have a right to expect a comprehensive, accurate and cohesive answer that is based on the rule of law rather than on which ever way the said PC got out of bed that morning.

    If more people took an interest in knowing their absolute rights and started politely challenging the Police, then it would force the Police to rethink their training policy and become more accountable for providing accurate information. I do concede however that they are also not helped by a Government whose sole purpose has been to muddy the legal waters with so many badly drafted laws and legal statutes that it's no surprsise Mr Plod doesn't know whether he is coming or going.

    Ultimately, whether you want to have a dig at MCN or not, this is purely an issue with substandard Policing in North Wales, and the attitude and education of the said Police officer.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    "I don't do things Police Officers ask me not to do out of respect for the job, and I've no reason not to respect them as I've had nothing but good experiences."

    Consider yourself f*cking lucky mate. I was the recipient of a nervous breakdown courtesy of plod who couldn't be arsed to use a bit of common sense. Had they done so it would have been perfectly obvious, as they later had to agree, that I had nothing to do with the alleged offence which was in fact a malicious allegation made by a well know local prick.

    When the mood takes them they are quite happy to not let little technicalities such as the law and evidence get in their way.

    The question was about the legality of seizing the camera. Even if the camera in question was being held by a hack from a paper you don't agree with the act of taking it was either lawful or it was not. A question that has not been answered.

  16. jimmyroamer

    Oy mate this is a firearms car!!

    Perhaps not identifying the car as a firearms vehicle in the first place might have prevented the whole incident

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The police can be a real pain in the a*se can't they? And so can bikers.

  18. Chris Arnold
    Big Brother

    @ The Original Ash

    Sorry, but if he's in a public space, the officer doesn't get to choose whether or not he "allows" himself to be photographed, in the same way that you or I don't get to choose whether we are filmed by CCTV or not.

    You try using that same "Don't take a picture of me, you're compromising my safety" line with a FIT team and see how far you get.

    "I don't do things Police Officers ask me not to do out of respect for the job," - regardless of them not necessarily having the legal power to tell you what to do?

    "and I've no reason not to respect them as I've had nothing but good experiences." Not a black kid in living in an inner city then??

  19. Rod MacLean

    @The Original Ash

    It wasn't the officer himself that wasn't to be photographed, it was the vehicle.

    The argument went a bit like this:

    Plod: Don't photograph our car, it's a firearms vehicle and people might be able to identify it.

    MCN: How do I know it's a firearms vehicle?

    Plot: You don't unless we tell you

    MCN: So what law is there against photographing it?

    Plod: Erm....None.... Tell you what, you can photograph the side of it if you like...


    Plod: Now I'm going to steal your camera

    MCN: What legal basis do you have for taking my camera

    Plod: Errrrmmmm.......... <followed by FUD>

    Repeat the last two lines until the Plod realises he hasn't got a legal leg to stand on.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Re : The original Ash

    I take your point but have to ask why the Oficcer did not give a valid reason why the jouro shouldn't take a picture of his vechicle. Unfortuneately for NWP "Because I say so" is not a valid legal reason.

    The NWP still haven't provided a LEGAL reason for an officer to prevent a member of the public taking pictures of them or their vechicles.

    Perhaps the best thing would be to ask a court to decide whether or not this Officer had overstepped his authority.

  21. Jon 66


    We all like to jump on the bandwagon and indiscriminately slag off plod don't we? Sure, the hapless police officer didn't do a great job trying to think on his feet, but you can completely understand him wanting to stop a journalist identifying a firearms vehicle being revealed to the public.

    Personally I'm sad to hear of yet another instance of this whole holier-than-thou journalistic culture under the pretence of reporting in the public interest whilst merely provoking another headline grabber: who care's if firearms fall into the wrong hands and some poor sod gets shot as long as there's a good story to be sold?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    One other question...

    Back to the original report - if the vehicle in question WAS an armed response unit/firearms vehicle (and if the plod says it is it must be true) then why was it being used to watch a bunch of law-abiding bikers? Massive over-reaction perhaps? Or had they a tip-off that Osama BL was in their midst, disguised behind a full-face helmet. I think we should be told. We get a lot of bikers in Mid Wales, generally very courteous road-users (if somewhat prone to suicidal speeding) but I've never seen a single one taking a potshot at another.

    Of course, the plod could have been telling porkies about the firearms.

  23. SuperTim

    @ eden

    The armour only protects the front and sides, these buggers will whack you from behind when you aint expecting it!

  24. Eponymous Cowherd

    @Chris Arnold

    ***"Sorry, but if he's in a public space, the officer doesn't get to choose whether or not he "allows" himself to be photographed, in the same way that you or I don't get to choose whether we are filmed by CCTV or not."***

    Neither do the plebs filmed on those "Road Wars" type programmes. I've often heard the Police in those shows respond to complaints of filming with lines like "He (the cameraman) is in a public place and can do what he wants", often followed up with a threat of arrest if the complainant keeps complaining (usually for public order offences).

    So, what's good for the goose, and all that......

    It does seem that the more the "authorities" spy on, track, record and log *our* legal activities, the more they object to *us* exercising our right to know what *they* are up to.

    So. Police. Don't want to be filmed? MPs. Don't want us wanting to know all about your expenses? Then stop with the F'ing Big Brother shit!

  25. andy gibson

    Why are the police

    so scared of their firearms car being identified? Surely they've got enough firearms to board to repeal any invaders!

    It's bad enough they wear plain clothes and drive unmarked cars. What next - "sorry we don't carry any ID because we're undercover, but we /are/ the Police, honest"

  26. The Beer Monster

    While we're at it...

    I'm sure half those 'bikers' were really just motorcyclists...

    Cat ->pigeons.

  27. Neil Charles

    Note to plod

    A little courtesy goes a very long way. It was going ok until he (allegedly) grabbed the camera. How about an alternative tack from the PC...

    PC: "I'm a biker too and I'm asking you not to photograph me or the car please. I can't stop you if you want to, but it could cause problems for me if I'm identified in a photo because I'm a firearms officer."

    Reasonable MSN journalist: "Oh, ok. What kind of bike have you got?"


    Unreasonable MSN journalist: <takes photo>

    PC: <smiles> "Fine, I asked you nicely. Keep your photo. Now I'm going to take 20 minutes going over your bike with a fine toothed comb until I find something wrong with it. Is that Akrapovic exhaust road legal? Oh dear."

    Trouble is, that PC couldn't possibly admit that certain things aren't in his power. Or say please. Most people are nice if you're reasonable and don't square up to them with your thumbs hooked into the arms of your body armour. (Why do they do that btw? It doesn't look comfortable.)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Constable dipshit I am arresting you ...

    "if someone continues to do something when you've asked them politely not to several times then unfortunately a harder stance has to be taken".


    Which is why we should prosecute the idiot, sorry, officer involved.

  29. Tim Blair

    Ho surprises..

    According to ACPO (association of chief police officers) guidelines and the Anti-Terrorism Laws the police cannot prevent you taking a photo unless they have clear reason that is connected with a crime. Further they can not seize/interfere with a camera, memory card or film without a court order. This could easily been seen as interfering with / destroying potential evidence.

    I'm just an amateur photographer of 36 years experience an I'm fed up with recent changes in police attitudes that breach my legal rights.

    And I'm a biker../.

    And yeah MCN SUX

  30. Throatwobbler Mangrove


    "The police can be a real pain in the a*se can't they? And so can bikers."

    A good thing the law applies to both equally then, isn't it?

  31. Catkins

    ARV my a***

    Armed Response Vehicle? Uh huh.

    ARVs tend to be marked vehicles. It's possible that it was an undercover ARV, but it rather defeats the object of having a covert response car when you crew it with uniformed officers and then plonk said vehicle amongst thousands of protestors and everyone your secret.

    Also, ARVs tend to be high performance vehicles. This was a Ford Galaxy people carrier. If you look for news reports on the use of ARVs by North Wales Police you'll see that their car of choice is a Mercedes. If you look for stories where unmarked Ford Galaxys feature you'll find that Heddlu Gogledd Cymru use them for traffic patrols.

    I'm sure the glorified traffic warden in question wanted the photographer to think he had a gun in his pocket, even though he wasn't pleased to see him....

  32. R Callan

    To paraphrase

    P.C. Humpty-Dumpty

    The law is whatever I say it is!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    "Just Because I'm Paranoid..."

    Wasn't it Yossarian in Catch 22 who said, "Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get me"?

    Normally I read all the comments before commenting, but I can't be bothered today. So I apologise if I'm submitting stuff that's already been said.

    Superintendent Shaw is quoted as saying, "The officer had valid operational concerns about the vehicle being identified via the media and endeavoured to explain his concerns. Given those valid concerns the officer had to be guarded in the explanation he provided at the time."

    I have to agree with John Ozimek, it does sound like a way of being able to act without having to justify such actions. It's as if the police are saying, "We have good reason to do this, but, for that same good reason, we can't disclose what the reason itself is." I'd imagine there's a quotation from Catch 22 for that one as well. The police can then do anything they like, and there will always be "operational" reasons for why they must do whatever they're doing, and "operational" reasons why they can't say what the "operational" reasons are.

    Perhaps the answer is to turn the tables? "I don't have to comply, officer, on human rights grounds. Oh, and I don't have to say what those grounds are, since they're human rights, and I have them whether I say what they are or not." Then, if need be, leave it to a lawyer to flesh it out with arguments about the rights of the innocent not to have to prove their innocence, privacy rights, etc, etc. Several years later, you might finally have a verdict from the European Court of Human Rights. It might even be in your favour.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In a Democratic Country

    In a democratic country the police would be powerless to act until the law was broken. The police interfering with anyone going about their lawful business should be prosectuted to the full extent of the law.

    They are empowered to uphold the law not determine it. Because I said so don't make it so.

    If the officer is concerned about being photographed and a picture could compromise his safety perhaps it is time for a career change. Is he worried about being abducted by the matching leather CBR brigade or being kept under survalience by Duccati riders?

    Obviousely he was not concerned about his imminent personal safety and was prepared to act in an confrontational manner while heavily outnumbered by protesters.

    A large proportion of police cars are Armed Response Units now and are easy to identify. A picture will make no difference to that. Howevver North Wales police are used to intimidating bikers.

  35. AlistairJ

    fifty fifty

    I don't know which is sadder, MCN pretending to do real journalism, or the North Wales plod pretending to be the Sweeny circa '73.

    Grab 'im sarge!

  36. Gordon861

    Eye-Spy Police

    We need some one to set up a website (outside the UK probably) and then run a competition to see who can photograph the most police cars/officers and upload them to the site.

    The prizes can be along the lines of a t-shirt with "I photographed NNN police and all I got was this t-shirt'.

    MCN could even run the next one during the next bike demo in North Wales, that would really get on the nerves of the police.

  37. Catkins

    Super Shaw - Leader of the Traffic cops

    Oh, and Superintendent Simon Shaw is Head of Roads Policing for North Wales Police. An odd choice of officer to comment on the behaviour of the Firearms squad.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Police State

    We look like a Middle eastern police state...oooh forgot, we are already!!!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    No confidence in N Wales police ...

    ... since I was knocked off my motorbike there and thought I was concussed when I couldn't understand the policeman standing over me. Until he asked 'Or would you like me to speak English?' with contemptuous lip-curling accompanying the last word. Naturally (non-Welsh bloke on motorbike, local in white van) I was charged with an offence, went to court but was surprisingly cleared. It was then that my solicitor told me that he was particularly pleased we had won, as the other driver's father was a magistrate in the same court.

    Actually, they got what they wanted - I have never been motorcycling there again. There are far prettier places to enjoy biking in the UK without having to worry about stuff like this.

    Icon because they really are out to get motorcyclists. MCN/dailyfail similarities notwithstanding.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    reminds me.....

    of when "someone I know" stood outside Surrey Police headquarters with a banner alleging corruption and an officer tried to grab a dictaphone that I had running in my hand to catch anything said to me. Of course he didnt get it, lol.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    is it not in OUR interest to know which cars contain armed and (oh so) questionably educated even-toed ungulates ?

  42. Anonymous Coward

    "Under what powers..."

    "Under the powers of common decency, common sense, and respect for an officer of the law, you asinine twerp."

  43. Jack the Ripper
    Thumb Up

    @ Jon 66

    I don't think this is about us all wanting to "indiscriminately slag off plod" - more attempts to hold public officials to account and being stonewalled. This is particularly important when said officials are there to uphold the Law, but apparently make it up as they go along...

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "Under the powers of common decency, common sense, and respect for an officer of the law, you asinine twerp."

    Under those selfsame powers perhaps the copper might have had the decency to explain himself instead of behaving like yet another oh-so-tedious little Hitler. If (as seems evident by his behaviour) the copper didn't understand the law then maybe under the powers of common decency, blah, blah he might have the courtesy to shut the fuck up?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe this explains it ?

    Seems the Police like abusing power in Wales;

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    fail as usual

    in my experience north wales police use volvo's, skoda's, and ford galaxies for road policing, and i have seen a ford galaxy used as a firearms vehicle. the mainstay of the north wales police fleet is ford focus'.

    i have not seen a marked for galaxy, as for the others, its a mix

    as for head of road policing, i was under the impression that it was chief supt. gerraint anwyl, as he's also chairman of the "National Roads Policing Intelligence Forum". also, every time there is an article about north wales police and the roads, he's the one doing the speaking

    also, while i'm a biker, i'm not getting involved in the biking aspect of this.

    as for the general actions of north wales. my mother has had a boy racer with bald tyres that went into the back of her told to get them sorted. i had a mental breakdown at the begining of the year (ended up punching my boyfriend who'd caused it and taken an overdose), and the police knocked my door down even though they had a key. they tried to do me for resisting arrest and section 5 at the hospital even though i was in and out of conciousness and incapable of doing anything, they even pepper sprayed me. one of my friends who was a witness to it all said that one of the officers was spouting abuse at me. a few weeks later when i was well enough to go to the police station, she even went as far as saying '"it doesn't matter if i'm lying, i'm a police office and no judge is going to believe you over me" on the interview tape. then, afterwards, as i was being let out, she said to my mother "it's no wonder he's so fucked up with you as his mother". i now know that she even had a go at my boyfriend for getting me in that state - apparently this officer is well known for this type of behaviour according to my solicitor and some other officers i know, my solicitor actually went to school with her and would've loved to see her get her comeuppance. if i could've dealt with the stress at the time, me and my mother would've put in a complaint against her, and we had a few witnesses to back us up....

    i can however say that i have been caught speeding twice, once majorly (95mph), and another time about 5-10mph over the limit, both on the a55. i got a ticket for the 95mph, and got a telling off for the 5-10mph. on both occasions the officers were decent people

  47. elderlybloke

    MCN and Wales (North)

    I had to do a search to find out what MCN is. Much wiser now.

    What I can't understand is why North Wales has a separate police force. It must be a very small one.

    Down here in New Zealand we have one police force for the whole country .

    They seem to be much more polite than your North Wales lot.

    Even when I rode a motor bike , they were quite civilised.

    From the stories I read about the Pommy cops you would be happier down here in the South Pacific.

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