Urban Velo

UK Police Stop and Proof Campaign

Lancashire police have recently started a targeted “stop and proof” campaign where given cyclists are being stopped by the police and asked to prove ownership of the bicycle either through a receipt, bank statement, insurance policy etc. The police then have the authority to confiscate bicycles that they don’t deem properly documented—a ridiculous, big brother campaign with reasonable goals (bring down high bike theft rates) but completely unrealistic means. I’ve not once cycled about with documentation that the bike in question in in fact mine, and in many cases such documentation simply doesn’t exist. As seen on Going Going Bike.


  1. MrZuffenhausenOctober 14, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Take a photo of you and your bike with an old newspaper in front?

  2. Bobby BOctober 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Like to see a cop on a mtb catch me

  3. TerryOctober 14, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Oh, so you have to prove yourself innocent?

  4. RaiynOctober 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Good thing I’ve got mine registered with the National Bike Registry (and I carry the cards) just in case US cops try some crap like this.

  5. StephenOctober 15, 2011 at 10:25 am

    While this is a very nanny-state way of doing things, I see where they are coming from. As a New Yorker, every time I lock my bike up, I have to accept the fact that it may not be there when I return (even if I am just getting a sandwich). I would gladly carry some sort of registration for my bicycle. I do it for my car, why not my bike?

  6. dontcoastOctober 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    so, riding use bikes, or your dad’s old racing bike, is illegal. whoa.

    it’s idiotic.

    maybe big shots in the corporate bike industry might support this, but hopefully the bike industry as a whole will generate some backlash

    is there required registration in london? if not, its even dumber.

  7. KibbeeOctober 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Somebody should ask the cops if they have papers for all their bikes. I’m guessing they don’t carry any papers with them. Which brings up a good point. What about riding a bike which isn’t yours but which isn’t stolen? Can I let a friend borrow my bike? What about a bike I legitimately bought at a garage sale? There is no proof of ownership. Until every bike has a VIN Number and license plate, stuff like this is impossible to verify.

  8. RaiynOctober 16, 2011 at 12:46 am

    @ Kibbee

    Every bike DOES have a serial number.

  9. Joe PeraltaOctober 16, 2011 at 6:25 am

    This is why British governance was ejected from the US at gunpoint.

    I see 1 of 17 seized bikes was “returned to its rightful owner”. No word on the other 16.

  10. TerryOctober 16, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Those other 16 may have been seized from their rightful owners.

  11. bradOctober 16, 2011 at 9:11 amAuthor

    FWIW: Every bike does not have a serial number. I have a few here that do not.

  12. Paul lemagneOctober 16, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Two good things I have read here :

    - So you have to prove yourself innocent ? (That is against the law)

    - Not every bike has a serial number I own 3 bikes, 2 have a serial number (the cheapest one) ,the carbon frame race bicycle has no serial number ….

    From the original source : Acceptable documentation regarding ownership is a receipt, a photograph of the rider on the bike seized, a house insurance document/bicycle insurance document

  13. Joe PeraltaOctober 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    16 may be 17 – “returned to the rightful owner” only implies it was stolen. No doubt some riders’ll have to plod over with their paperwork to prove they’re innocent and get their bikes back.

    God bless our Bill of Rights.

  14. Profiling suspected bike thieves » CycleliciousOctober 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    [...] Via Urban Velo Magazine. [...]

  15. Chrissy JOctober 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    As a method of preventing and fighting crime, it smells like a dead horse. It smacks of desperate measures.

    I live in the next police authority area (Greater Manchester) and, given the high numbers of cyclists here (and subsequent levels of theft) I expect this attitude to be taken up here.

    Will it deter theft? No.
    Will it help reunite bikes with their owners? Not so far.
    Does it make the police look as though they’re trying? Yes.
    Are we as cyclists reassured by this scheme? NO!

  16. RobOctober 24, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I have bikes that I have owned and rebuilt on several occasions dating back up to 19 years. The proof of purchase has long gone, and was only a memo re tax at the shop where I worked.
    Yes, a well-intentioned idea, but largely unworkable, and with its presumption of guilt, unconstitutional.

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