Legal Experts Respond to Police Filtering ‘Blocking’ Video

A video posted on social media showing a police officer berating a filtering motorcyclist gets an expert verdict

Police filtering video

A video has been shared widely on social media, showing motorcyclists filtering through traffic on a stretch of dual carriageway that was closed to one traffic lane.

It’s a fairly short video, but it got us talking in the Visordown office, and it’s not the rider of the motorbike or the way they are riding that piqued our interest, but the demeanour of the traffic officer they encountered.

The rider of the bike is filtering alongside a row of slow-moving traffic on a dual carriageway that has cones closing lane two. It’s also worth noting that the placing of the cones is such that they sit what looks like nearly half a metre from the white line that divides lanes one and two. Effectively, lane one is open to traffic, and there is a slither of lane two seemingly still passable for all but the widest of adventure bikes and heavyweight cruisers. 

The rider approaches a Norfolk Constabulary police car and begins to filter alongside, only to be greeted by an outstretched arm of the driver of the police car, who then goes on to yell “Stop, You’re not filtering in one lane”. The officer then goes on to say, “It’s not happening” and then ends the exchange with what sounds to us like “I’ll stick you on if you do it, STAY THERE”.

Now, the rider seems a bit confused by the whole thing, as for the entirety of the video they aren’t travelling at more than 7-10mph, only a fraction more than the traffic around them. And it got us thinking, what’s the right thing to do in this situation?

We reached out to Andrew Prendergast- Senior Partner – White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors to get his take on the matter.

“Firstly, it is perfectly legal to filter in England and Wales.  Therefore, if the biker could have passed the police car without entering the closed lane and/or causing the police car to swerve etc., there should be absolutely no problem in my opinion. 

“However, if the biker had gone into the closed lane etc. I could see a police officer ‘sticking him on’ for careless driving potentially. Careless driving is defined by section 3ZA RTA 1988. It is driving which falls below what would be expected of a ‘competent and careful’ driver/rider.

“From the short clip we have seen, it certainly appears the police officer could have engaged with the biker a whole lot better. However, legally, the biker did the right thing as he complied ‘when directed to do so by the constable…’  If he had not done that, he may have got ‘stuck on’ for not complying with S.35 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.  

“This states: - ‘Where a constable… is for the time being engaged in the regulation of traffic in a road, a person driving or propelling a vehicle who neglects or refuses - (a)to stop the vehicle, or (b)to make it proceed in, or keep to, a particular line of traffic, when directed to do so by the constable in the execution of his duty … is guilty of an offence.’

“Personally, I don’t see why the police officer did not move to his left and let him past. That said, we only have a short clip to look at and we do not know what happened before, or what the police officer knows is ahead.”

We also reached out to Norfolk Constabulary for comment on the video and the police officers' demeanour, we are awaiting their response.

After reading this you might want to read our article on how to filter on a motorcycle safely and spot hazards.