Driver who flashed others to warn of police speed trap is fined £175.

Page may contain affiliate links. Please see terms for details.
there's no proof that these drivers were speeding and i'm sure a good lawyer could argue that if you prevent a crime from being committed then you deny the police the opportunity to solve that crime and catch the criminal, conspiracy is a criminal offence but more difficult to prove than the act itself so the police have been impeded.

Sounds rather convoluted to me. It's not an offence to genuinely prevent a crime from being committed (as opposed to helping someone to get away with it). And if the crime has not been committed, there is no crime to be solved. Similarly, you cannot "conspire" to prevent a crime from being committed, only to plan, commit or conceal a crime or some other nefarious activity.

In preventing a drunk person from getting behind the wheel, you really are doing the police - and society as a whole - a huge favour.
 
i didn't mean 'conspire to prevent a crime from being committed', i meant you are helping the conspirator by talking them out of committing the crime, regardless i don't want to bogged down in a pointless back and forward i just figured i would try and be as obtuse as the CPS for a while.
 
sorry, i thought it was further down the same road from reading the report in the paper.. i think the limit there is 30mph or 40mph which is reasonable...

The part of the road i was refering to is about half a mile away from the picture.

i still think its ridiculous to charge him with obstruction,

although the highway code states you should not flash your lights inappropriately highway code is not law, although i know you can get a ticket for having foglights on when its not foggy,i'm not sure where you stand with headlight flashing according to the law (not the highway code)
 
There are several offences - such as Perverting the course of justice or conspiracy to commit a crime - that are left to interpretation by judges and jurors.

What these offences have in common, is that unlike robbing a bank where it is quite easy to establish whether a crime has been committed, these type of offences also raise the question whether a crime has actually been committed.

Such offences are somewhat un-democratic in that they leave room for authorities and governments to prosecute almost any one for anything - and indeed this is the weapon of choice of most dictatorships.

I am not suggesting that these offences are redundant, just saying that by their nature they are open to abuse.

In that context, the question here is not only if flashing your light at speed traps is a good idea or not, but, as some have argued, does this really constitutes a prosecutable offence?
 
Last edited:
There is a good definition of "obstruction" that can be considered when looking at Sec 89(2) of the Police Act 1996, where the offence that the chap was found guilty of is laid out:

"‘Obstruction’ includes any intentional interference, e.g. by physical force, threats, telling lies or giving misleading information, refusing to cooperate in removing an obstruction, or warning a person who has committed a crime so that he can escape detection (e.g. keeping lookout for a street game)."

Almost identical is the definition found in the Oxford Law Dictionary, but this uses an illustration related to this story:

"“Obstruction” includes any intentional interference, e.g. by physical force, threats, telling lies or giving misleading information, refusing to cooperate in removing an obstruction, or warning a person who has committed a crime so that he can escape detection (e.g. warning a speeding driver that there is a police trap ahead)."

So it is a prosecutable offence.

However, you do have to question the wisdom of following this through and the negative reflection it places on the police. On the other hand, it would seem that the chap was his own worse enemy - seemingly "questioning" the officer at the time, having no legal representation, and having been in front of the court before (presumably about the same offence) as the picture caption suggests.

Perverting the course of justice has a clear definition in law - one or more of three things has to be proven to have taken place:

1. Intimidating or threatening a case witness or juror
2. Intimidating or threatening a judge
3. Disposing of or fabricating of evidence

Conspiracy is a very difficult concept but again the legislation does lay down clear rules - there is a real agreement, full knowledge of the offence being conspired, etc. It is not a simple offence to be convicted of.

Thanks to the legal guys I'm working with today :)
 
... "‘Obstruction’ includes any intentional interference, e.g. by physical force, threats, telling lies or giving misleading information, refusing to cooperate in removing an obstruction, or warning a person who has committed a crime so that he can escape detection (e.g. keeping lookout for a street game)."....


Well, the chap did not know that the other drivers were committing an offence... he flashed at all drivers equally, as he had no way of knowing if any of them were actually speeding?
 
Last edited:
...Conspiracy is a very difficult concept but again the legislation does lay down clear rules - there is a real agreement, full knowledge of the offence being conspired, etc. It is not a simple offence to be convicted of....


I think we are in agreement here, and the reason that lawmakers have these guidelines in place is because otherwise this offence could have been easily abused.
 
Yup - disagreeing with a police officer is potentially hazardous to your wealth.

I'd say that was stretching a point.

Er... isn't that what the police/CPS have just done in this case with this use of 'obstruction'? One might come to the conclusion that the state is happy to stretch a point, but only in one direction - it's own self-interest.
 
I got caught in a speed trap recently precisely because another motorist flashed me to warn me. I was so distracted by the flashing, wondering if it was someone I knew, had I got my lights on etc that I failed to take my foot of the throttle and coast (which I normally do at that place) approaching the new 30 zone.

Very annoying, but I did receive the wisdom of a driver awareness training course, which was actually quite interesting, even if their grasp of physics is a bit shakey
 
which was actually quite interesting, even if their grasp of physics is a bit shakey

Go on, tell us more, what were they trying to prove or disprove? Be interesting to know the course content.
 
One of the messages is that you stand an 80% chance of killing someone at 40 mph, but this drops to 20% at 30mph

They try and justify this scientifically (you can't argue with science, right?) that this is all down to the amount of kinetic energy involved in the vehicle, and in a pedestrian impact all this kinetic energy is transferred to the person and this is what causes the damage.
Its a pedantic point as anyone getting hit by a car is on a sticky wicket regardless of the mechanisms involved, but only some of the kinetic energy is transferred to the person, and that is 1/2 m v squared where m is the mass of the person, not the mass of the vehicle (assuming the vehicle is lots more massive than the person). So it makes little difference if you are hit by a big car or a little car in terms on energy transfer - you end up moving at the speed of the car (simplistically).

The important thing is the rate at which the energy is transferred to the person. If the front of your car is all squishy, you get energy transferred much slower, and the accelerations that you see are much less, whereas a rigid vehicle will accererate you up to speed very quickly, which is a lot worse. Its all about impulse, not kinetic energy.

As I said, its a bit pedantic, but if you are going to use scientific arguement, at least make it relevent.

What was more interesting (and relevent) was that if you kill someone and speed is shown to be a factor, you will go to prison for between 2 to 5 years. That I didn't know, and that will have more impact on my driving than any arguement about energy transfer, stopping distances and reaction times. (which are all discussed, although coefficients of friction were ignored)

Anyway, the course was actually quite enjoyable and entertaining, and not at all preachy, and does serve as a reminder of things that we may well have forgotten about over the years. And you don't get 3 points. Sadly a lot of these courses will go in the austerity measures, as the money raised goes to road safety issues, rather than government coffers. Far better for the gov if they just fine everybody.

Note if you do get offered a course it is in the locality of where you were caught, which makes it not an option if you were just passing through somewhere miles from home.
 
... Note if you do get offered a course it is in the locality of where you were caught, which makes it not an option if you were just passing through somewhere miles from home.

Interesting post. As an aside, you can take the course in your locality. My wife has just been on a course here in Surrey, having been flahed in Northamptonshire.
 
There is a good definition of "obstruction" that can be considered when looking at Sec 89(2) of the Police Act 1996, where the offence that the chap was found guilty of is laid out:

"‘Obstruction’ includes any intentional interference, e.g. by physical force, threats, telling lies or giving misleading information, refusing to cooperate in removing an obstruction, or warning a person who has committed a crime so that he can escape detection (e.g. keeping lookout for a street game)."

Almost identical is the definition found in the Oxford Law Dictionary, but this uses an illustration related to this story:

"“Obstruction” includes any intentional interference, e.g. by physical force, threats, telling lies or giving misleading information, refusing to cooperate in removing an obstruction, or warning a person who has committed a crime so that he can escape detection (e.g. warning a speeding driver that there is a police trap ahead)."

So it is a prosecutable offence.
It is indeed a prosecutable offence, but the key part (for a conviction) is that there was both intentional interference, and that a crime was being committed. In this case Thompson clearly passed the test of intention, mainly because he was stupid enough to say so, but for the prosecution to succeed it had to be proved that those warned were either exceeding the legal speed limit or were likely to do so at the location of the speed trap. This was established in the High Court in the Glendinning case in 2005:
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS v GLENDINNING (2005)

DC (Scott Baker LJ, Owen J) 13/10/2005

CRIMINAL LAW - POLICE - ROAD TRAFFIC

OBSTRUCTION OF POLICE : SPEEDING : WARNING MOTORISTS OF SPEED TRAPS : WARNING DRIVERS : ACTUS REUS OF OFFENCE

Where an individual gave a warning to motorists of the presence of a police speed trap, it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that those warned were either exceeding the legal speed limit or were likely to do so at the location of the speed trap for the individual to commit an offence of obstructing a police constable in the execution of his duty.

The appellant appealed by way of case stated against a decision of the Crown court that the respondent (G) had no case to answer to a charge of obstructing a police constable in the execution of his duty. Police constables had established a speed trap on a lay-by of a dual carriageway. The constables observed G making a slow-down signal with his hand to drivers behind him. G was subsequently convicted in the magistrates' court of obstructing a police constable in the execution of his duty. G successfully appealed his conviction to the Crown court, which held that the video evidence showed that none of the drivers were travelling in excess of the speed limit and that they had not reacted to G's signals by slowing down. Accordingly the Crown court held that G had no case to answer. The issue was whether, for there to be an obstruction of a police constable in the execution of his duty by warning others of the presence of a speed trap, it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that those warned were either exceeding the legal speed limit or were likely to do so at the location of the speed trap.

HELD: The actus reus of the offence could only be established where the prosecuting authority proved that those warned were either exceeding the legal speed limit or were likely to do so at the location of the speed trap. On the facts of the instant case it was clear that there was no actual obstruction by G, Bastable v Little (1907) 1 KB 59, Betts v Stevens (1910) 1 KB 1, Green v Moore (1982) 126 SJ 79 considered.

Appeal dismissed.
Unless the prosecution in the Thompson case proved (how?) that "those warned were either exceeding the legal speed limit or were likely to do so at the location of the speed trap" it's hard to see why an appeal against conviction would not succeed.

(with due credit to someone much more qualified in these matters than me!)
 
In the case quoted above , it would be very difficult for anyone to prove that the driver's intention in giving the 'slowing down' hand signal for the benefit of following traffic was for anything other than to signal to following traffic that he , himself , was slowing down .

Although hand signals are seldom seen on the roads these days , they do still have their place under certain circumstances .
 
Interesting post. As an aside, you can take the course in your locality. My wife has just been on a course here in Surrey, having been flashed in Northamptonshire.
OK, in some places you don't get the option. A colleague was caught in Bournemouth and had no choice but to do the course there. Other places may be more flexible! Probably no way of finding out in advance!
 
It is indeed a prosecutable offence, but the key part (for a conviction) is that there was both intentional interference, and that a crime was being committed.

Is that principle now established on the basis of the quoted test case, or is it still open to interpretation by the courts? I'm never quite sure how much weight is carried by legal precedents, or whether they can be overturned if a different view is taken during a subsequent trial.

Going back to the wording of the Act, the definition is: ""‘Obstruction’ includes any intentional interference", followed by examples of what might constitute obstruction, including the bit about warning speeding drivers. On that basis, I'm not sure that it has to be proven that a crime was being committed at the time - unless the case law precedent is sacrosanct.
 
Is that principle now established on the basis of the quoted test case, or is it still open to interpretation by the courts? I'm never quite sure how much weight is carried by legal precedents, or whether they can be overturned if a different view is taken during a subsequent trial.

Going back to the wording of the Act, the definition is: ""‘Obstruction’ includes any intentional interference", followed by examples of what might constitute obstruction, including the bit about warning speeding drivers. On that basis, I'm not sure that it has to be proven that a crime was being committed at the time - unless the case law precedent is sacrosanct.
As I understand it (but I am not an expert!), an Appeal at the High Court sets precedent.

In the Glendinning case it was the DPP who was appealing a previous aquittal at Crown Court. The Appeal Court decided that the Crown Court had interpreted the law correctly and that it was indeed essential in a case such as this for the prosecution to prove that anyone warned (in that particular case by Glendinning making a "slow down" gesture, in this case by Thompson flashing his headlights) were either exceeding the legal speed limit or were likely to do so for a successful conviction under a charge of Obstructing a Police Officer etc. In other words, there is a requirement for both intentional interference (in this case a warning being given - that's not in dispute), and that the person(s) being warned were commiting a crime (which is the bit that it would appear was not established in the Thompson case).

It would appear that this is a good example of why the law is best left to experts and that a person defending themself generally has a fool as a client ;)
 
A thought on the moral as opposed to the legal argument of flashing to warn drivers of a speed trap ahead.

Seeing/reading that a person has been killed by a speeding driver is unfortunately not unusual. So is it better to warn such a driver so they avoid prosecution and continue to put lives at risk, or let them get caught and suffer the consequences and hopefully learn the error of their ways.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top Bottom