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Discrimination Against Bikers is Alive and Well!!

September 13, 2009
Oh, sure - single me out!

Oh, sure - single me out!

Bangor, Wales – Dictionary definitions have always been a fascination to me. Take the definition of discrimination for instance; treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favour of or against, a person based on the group, class, or category to which that person belongs rather than on individual merit.

Bikers are often accused of being negative and grinding on about their rights and what they haven’t got. To some extent this maybe true but what would things be like if the biking community didn’t kick up a fuss about issues of concern to them. Today’s Reclaim North Wales  protest is a case in point with over 4000 turning up to make the point that the North Wales police discriminatory attitude toward motorcyclists and motorcycling must stop.

What’s been going on in North Wales and in other police force areas, whether by accident or design, is the worst form of discrimination as it causes the slow but steady message to be disseminated through the media that motorcycling is a negative.

Apart from the mixed message i.e. one day stopping bikers for vehicle checks the next taking them out on Bike Safe assessments the North Wales Police (NWP) action raises a couple of interesting points on discrimination that need further examination.

The use by serving officers of blogs is a case in point. Three senior officers, Brunstrom, Wolfendale and Shannon, from the North Wales police have in the past blogged or currently blog on the North Wales police website. All have taken the opportunity to diss out biking in the knowledge that the stuff will be lapped up by the medial. Interestingly the Police Code of Conduct states that; “Officers should treat members of the public with courtesy and respect, avoiding abusive or deriding attitudes or behaviour. In particular, officers must avoid: favouritism of an individual or group; all forms of harassment, victimisation or unreasonable discrimination”. Myself and others have complained to the North Wales Police Authority (NWPA) and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on this one.  In light of the Code of Conduct we don’t think it’s fair that officers, in paid time and using resources that are publicly funded, offer views and opinions on one sector of society, its discrimination. Well it’s somewhat puzzling to find that neither the NWPA nor the IPCC currently agree with this view.

The NWP motorcycle stop checks are another interesting point for discussion. It now appears undisputed that on some weekends this summer 400 or more bikers have been stopped for ‘operational reasons’. Operational reasons appear to mean “to talk with them and enforce any offences that are discovered”. I presume that the NWP are using Section 163 of the Road Traffic Act under which the police can stop a mechanically propelled vehicle being driven on the road. Interesting that a following a review of Section 163 a Royal Commission said that the “Infringement of a person’s liberty to go about his business should be allowed only on suspicion of his involvement in an offence”. So perhaps the NWP would care to explain exactly what offence is committed by a biker riding at the relevant speed limit on a legal machine, being in North Wales perhaps!!

Someone less interested in the esoteric arguments relating to the NWP’s antics may draw a conclusion from all of this that it would be very unlikely that NWP would target individuals from ethic minority groups on the same basis as they are targeting bikers. After all a complaint upheld by the Equality and Human Rights Commission doesn’t look too clever on a Chief Constables CV.

What’s the way forward? Easy, get ourselves declared a minority only then will enlightenment, peace and harmony reign.

© Back Roads Rider 2009

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