Cycle pathology

While making lunch I heard on Five Live the bizarre tale of a woman who was arrested under the Terrorism Act (which exact one, I’m not sure) for walking on a cycle path in Dundee. I thought it was someone winding them up during a phone-in, but no – the Times reports that it actually did happen:

?The next thing I knew, the harbour master had driven up behind me with a megaphone, saying, ?You?re trespassing, please turn back?. It was totally ridiculous. I started laughing and kept on walking. Cyclists going past were also laughing.

?But then two police cars roared up beside me and cut me off, like a scene from Starsky and Hutch, and officers told me I was being arrested under the Terrorism Act. The harbour master was waffling on and (saying that), because of September 11, I would be arrested and charged.?

The mind boggles at trying to assess the thought processes in the harbourmaster’s mind. Can anyone seriously think that the act of walking on a cycle path is but a few short steps away from mass murder? Mind you, perhaps more worrying is the fact our legal system is now able to define any sort of petty infringement under the umbrella term of terrorism, and allow the harbourmaster to “do his job” thusly.

I am getting ever-more convinced by the hypothesis that the British are now not a nation of shopkeepers, but more a nation of petty jobsworths. The political class are just as jobsworthy as the rest of us, which is why the solution to any problem now seems to be writing down more and more laws, guidelines and frameworks (such as the above), and the use of ever-more bureaucratic pedantry (e.g. ID cards), simply because it is the only way they know how, and the only way that satisifes their predilection to meddle and nag.

8 thoughts on “Cycle pathology

  1. Remember, if you’re blue-eyed with a full head of blonde hair, you’ve nothing to fear from ID cards, as they’ll work just fine for you.

    It’s amazing how “oh yeah, Terrorism” is the perfect excuse for just about anything now.

  2. There’s only one Terrorism Act, it’s here and it does not, rpt not, authorise detention. What it does authorise the police to do is carry out a search for terrorist equipment. This is a ludicrously broad authorisation in itself, particularly as the Act specifically exempts the police from any burden of proof. But it only authorises stop-and-search – not stop-and-go-back, stop-and-go-home or stop-and-wait-there – and it only does that much if there’s a Terrorism Act authorisation in force at the time, in the area (in Broughty Ferry?) Ms Whosis should get onto Liberty sharpish.

  3. It is possible that she was arrested under another piece of terrorism legislation – the only specific reference to the Terrorism Act is a quote from her (with no year qualifying which act it was), and she could either have been misquoted or herself confused with another one.

    What’s needed is a simple and quick summary of the various new laws put into place (for informational purposes only), both as a handy guide for the layman and as a demonstration of New Labour’s ongoing addiction to passing legislation.

  4. I don’t want to seem like an apologist for these actions, but much of the Times’ article is inaccurate. She was never detained, but was escorted from the port by police. According to Tayside Police, they were complying with the Ship and Port Facility Security Regulations 2004 Reg 11 1(A) and Reg 11 1(B) which prohibit being in a restricted area without permission and failing to leave the area when requested to do so by the Port Authority.

  5. Well, she claims she was arrested, detained for four hours, and later received a letter from the procurator fiscal saying although there was enough evidence to prosecute, they were not going to. So one side in the story is telling porkies.

  6. “which prohibit being in a restricted area without permission and failing to leave the area when requested to do so”

    So someone put a cycle path through a restricted area? Clever.

  7. Indeed, someone did put a cycle path in a restricted area. Initially, they were going to close it off completely but because of local protests they created a designated cycle path – which you had to have a permit to use. This woman didn’t, and was on foot anyway. She wants to make an issue out of it, evidently, and I have it on good authority that she’s a notorious self-publicist. Just so you know…

  8. What’s needed is a simple and quick summary of the various new laws put into place (for informational purposes only), both as a handy guide for the layman and as a demonstration of New Labour’s ongoing addiction to passing legislation.

    Heh. It’s simpler than it looks, but not so simple that I can do it from memory. The main thing to keep in mind is that, whatever titles they give them, most of the laws they pass are only there to plug one specific loophole in some previous piece of legislation. The classic example is the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, whose sole function is to re-legalise control orders.

    You’re right about NuLab’s legislation mania. A while ago I was compiling a list of fundamental changes in the criminal justice system over the last decade (for my day job, I hasten to add) and at one point I could have been heard muttering, “1997 – it all seems to get going in 1997. Wonder what happened in 1997…?”

    Oh. That.

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