Car accident. Should I report it? The answer is “it depends”.
A mechanically propelled vehicle is defined as a car, motorcycle, bus, lorry etc. If you’re the driver and involved in an accident on a road or public place and another person is injured, then this is a reportable accident. If damage is caused to another vehicle or to someone else’s property, then this is also a reportable accident. Property includes street lamps, signs, bollards etc. It also includes an animal that has been killed or injured. Animal means any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog, (but not a cat). Then you must stop and provide your details to the other party.
In some cases you must produce your insurance certificate. If you don’t provide your details to the other party then the car accident must be reported to the police. It is against the law not to. Reports of a car accident cannot be made by phone, post or e-mail. A car accident report must be made in person. Car parks can be classed as public places e.g. supermarket and some multi-storey car parks. However, car parks belonging to private organisations where members of the public would not ordinarily be permitted are not classed as public places and a car accident occurring there should be reported directly to your insurance company.
If in doubt it is better to report the car accident to the police and be guided by their advice. You should report every car accident to your insurance company even if you were not at fault. The insurance company bases your quote and policy on information provided to them and if that changes it could invalidate your insurance policy. Reportable road traffic accidents have to be reported as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any case, within twenty-four hours. If the police suspect you are at fault then they may conduct an interview under caution with you. If this happens then you should seek legal advice.
Reasonable Suspicion – Search by Police Officer.
In order to search a person or vehicle a Police Officer must have reasonable suspicion. Police may search for stolen property offensive weapon, prohibited articles, or controlled drugs. There are some more obscure pieces of law that allow the police to search for other items such as articles used for hunting.
Reasonable suspicion does not require certainty that an unlawful item is being carried. Reasonable suspicion does not mean that the police officer has to be satisfied of this beyond reasonable doubt. Reasonable suspicion must be founded on a fact related to that individual and would later stand up to scrutiny. A police officer’s hunch or instinct is not reasonable suspicion.
The police officer must have formed a genuine suspicion in his own mind that he will find the object that he is allowed to search for. The suspicion that the object will be found must reasonable. This means that there must be an objective basis for that suspicion. This means that a reasonable person would be entitled to reach the same conclusion based on the same facts.
External factors may enhance the reasonable suspicion, such as the time of day or night, and the location of the person.
Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on a person’s ethnicity, or membership of a particular group.
The reasonable suspicion is the police officer’s state of mind, not the subject’s. Challenging the police officer’s state of mind is unlikely to change it, unless supported by some fact or another. For instance, if a police officer suspects that you are carrying a weapon by the shape of the carrier bag that you are holding, and wishes to exercise his power of search under section 1 of PACE, an explanation from you may change his mind. If for instance you are walking home from cricket practice, sight of the cricket bat in your bag may sufficiently challenge his state of mind to make the search unnecessary or even unlawful.
The suspicion may not exist before the start of the encounter. A police officer may speak with the subject and become suspicious during the encounter. For instance the subject may be nervous and apparently lie about the reasons for his presence. The person may simply display signs of intoxication caused by drugs. However there is no power for a police officer to stop and detain to discover suspicion.
You do not have to give your name and address when searched by a police officer. However if you are carrying something illegal then a police officer does have a power to demand your name and address and if you don’t provide it you may be arrested.
If all conditions are met, i.e. the reasonable suspicion is lawful and the police officer provides the correct information, (his name, station, grounds and object of search) then you may be searched and detained for that purpose. The police officer may use force. Obstructing or otherwise not permitting a lawful search could amount to “obstructing a police officer” for which you may be arrested.
Offensive Weapon or bladed article – Minimum Sentence
People who carry knives to be jailed under ‘two strikes’ rule
The minimum custodial sentence is at least six months’ imprisonment for an offender aged 18 or over when convicted; and at least a four month detention and training order for 16 and 17 year olds. There is no mandatory sentence for young people under 16 years
On 17 July, section 28 and schedule 5 to the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 were brought into force, introducing the two strikes rule
These require the imposition of an obligatory minimum sentence for any person over 16 years of age who is convicted, on or after that date, of a second or subsequent ‘offensive weapon or bladed article’ offence, whenever the first was committed.
For those under 18, the obligatory sentence is four months detention and a training order; for adults, the minimum sentence is six months’ imprisonment.
How long can the police hold you if arrested? If arrested the police can hold a person for 36 hours without charge.
The 36 hours starts from the time that the persons arrival at the police station. The detention is reviewed at intervals of 6 hours, 9 hours and 9 hours by an Inspector (up to 24 hours). Then at 24 hours, a Superintendent can extend the custody time for up to a further 12 hours. This extension used to be for serious arrestable offences only, but it is now possible for any indictable offence. This includes such things as ABH, shoplifting, joyriding (aggravated) and possession of drugs.
The Inspectors and Superintendents that review and extend the detention have to be satisfied that the investigation is being conducted diligently and expeditiously and that the detention is necessary. This means that the investigating officers have to demonstrate that they are making enquiries such as taking statements or viewing cctv, as well as interviewing the suspect.
If the police want to hold you for more than 36 hours then they have to apply to a magistrates court for extensions. Extensions may be applied for in blocks of up to 36 hours at a time, up to a maximum of 96 hours from the time that the suspect first arrived at the police station when arrested. So with these warrants of extended detention the police can hold you for a total of 96 hours. The police (not the CPS) make the application to the magistrates for an extension, and although magistrates usually grant the first application, they may not grant as many hours as the police want. This means the police may have to make a second or third application to the magistrates to hold a person for the full 96 hours.
If the suspect attends a hospital for treatment then the custody clock is suspended for the time he is away from the police station. This suspension of the custody clock does not happen if the person receives medical treatment at the police station. When charged with an offence this custody clock stops. Charged means told that you will be prosecuted and given a court date. When charged the police have to either bail you with or without conditions, or keep you at the police station for the next court. None of these times apply to terrorist/terrorism offences.
What is revenge porn? Previously dealt with under existing Harassment or Malicious Communications law, there is now a specific offence. The offence is that of distributing a private sexual image of someone without consent, and with the intention of causing them distress. This is commonly called revenge porn.
Revenge porn has become a growing phenomenon in recent years. It usually involves the posting and sharing on the web of intimate images of former lovers without their consent. Such actions, often by spurned men, are designed to degrade and humiliate ex-partners in the cruelest and malicious way. Victims have spoken out of how they have been traumatised by the images of their bodies being ogled and mocked by thousands of men. The maximum custodial sentence is two years.
Distributing an image has a wide definition. It can range from uploading the image to a pornographic website, sharing on social media. Also simply sending it via sms to a friend’s handset. Therefore uploading a naked or pornographic image of a person without their consent is now illegal.
This does not apply to offences committed before March 2015 when the Act relating to revenge porn came into force. Police powers in relation to revenge porn are the same as with any indictable offence. A person may be arrested. Their phone and computer equipment maybe seized, and browser history checked. Or the person may be invited to the police station for a voluntary interview under caution.
Revenge porn has been described by the courts as “a highly vindictive invasion of privacy, done with the intention of humiliating and hurting a victim”. A number of people in the UK have already been convicted under the revenge porn laws, including a woman and a youth. One person was jailed for 16 weeks. Instagram and Facebook have been used.
Joy riding TWC TWOC TDA. Taking without consent, taking and driving away, taking a conveyance, stealing a car, nicking a car, or as the press likes to call it, Joy riding. For the purpose of this blog, sections 12 and 12A of the theft Act shall be known as joyriding.
All names for taking someone’s car, or boat, or motorcycle for your own or another’s use. Joyriding is not theft if there is no intention to deprive the owner of it permanently. So TWC or joy riding as it is known, was introduced to fill this loophole in the law. For the joyriding offence to be complete, it has to be for your own or another’s use. Simply moving a car that is causing an obstruction is not joy riding. Untying boats and letting them drift from the mooring is not joy riding, but taking one for a row is. Taking a car for a test drive and keeping it longer than permitted is not joy riding, because it was taken with permission (it could be theft of petrol however). Conveyance means any conveyance constructed or adapted for the carriage of a person or persons whether by land, water or air (planes!). It does not include a conveyance constructed or adapted for use only under the control of a person not carried in or on it. So wheeling away a handcart, wheelbarrow or shopping trolley is not joy riding even if your mate is in it!. There is a separate offence of taking a pedal cycle.
There is an aggravated offence called aggravated vehicle taking. Aggravated means made worse. If a mechanically propelled vehicle is taken without consent and it is proved that, at any time after the vehicle was unlawfully taken (whether by him or another) and before it was recovered, the vehicle was driven dangerously, an accident occurred which caused injury, damage to other property or the stolen vehicle, then the aggravated offence is complete. Aggravated vehicle taking elevates the maximum sentence from 6 months imprisonment to 2 years. So the advice is don’t take someone else’s car and go joy riding, but if you do don’t crash it. If you kill someone it is 14 years! There is also an offence of knowing that any conveyance has been taken without such authority, drives it or allows himself to be carried in or on it. This covers passengers in cars that go joy riding.
Festival security search powers. With the festival season about to start this a probably a timely reminder of the search powers that festival security staff have at music festivals.
Festival security are not police officers. Festival security do not have the power to search you or your property. Festival security have no power to search your car or your tent. Festival security do not have the power to use force to search you. You are not required to give your name and address to festival security. The only power that festival security have over and above any citizen powers is that of refusing you entry to the festival, or asking you to leave.
Festival security will argue that it is a condition of entry that you consent to be searched. What that means is that if you do not consent to be searched then the consequence is that you may be refused entry to the festival.
You can withdraw your consent to be searched at any time before or during the search. This is your legal right.
Some festival security staff now use passive drugs dogs to sniff you. If a festival security dog indicates that you may have drugs you can still refuse to be searched by festival security.
If a member of festival security uses force in order to search you without your consent, then this unlawful and is an assault. If this happens then you should report the matter to the police. This can be done at any time.
The festival security powers to use force to search are the same whether inside or outside the festival – none.
If you are arrested by police following an unlawful search by festival security then you should make your solicitor aware, as this is potentially a defence if the evidence was obtained unlawfully.
Festival security have also been known to cut off wristbands that have been lawfully purchased by the customer. If festival security use force to do this, say for instance your hands are in your pockets or in the air, then this is also an assault.
If you are assaulted this year at a festival by festival security be sure to ask the person who assaults you for his name. Report the matter as soon as possible to the police. It would help the police to identify him if his photograph was taken also.
Festival security do have the same powers as every other citizen. These are, where an indictable (can be heard at crown court) offence has been committed; they can arrest someone if…
• The person is causing physical injury to himself or others
• The person is suffering physical injury
• The person is causing loss of or damage to property
• The person is absconding before a constable can assume responsibility for him
These powers only exist where an indictable offence HAS been committed. There is no mention of searching.
The police do have powers to use force when searching, and can require the removal of clothing.
The police to not have a power to cut off wristbands on behalf of the festival organiser. This has been successfully challenged in the past. Unless the police want to seize the wristband as evidence of an offence then they have no power to use force to take it. Police officers work for the Crown not festival organisers.