Too much hi-vis isn’t a bright idea

Too much hi-vis isn’t a bright idea

I have an acquaintance who rides an ex-police bike. He has reflective patches on his bike, blue and green, in squares, and he wears a plain white helmet and a full-on Dayglo jacket complete with epaulettes and black shoulder slides. He is now going to buy a “Polite” reflective sticker in blue for his back and chest. He looks every inch a police rider.

I think he is in danger of being prosecuted by the police for impersonating a police officer, but he says that if civilian riders on blood runs with blue lights can “get away with it” then he will continue bullying his way through traffic looking like a policeman.

He is now also trying to work out how to get his headlights to automatically flash to “clear traffic” but he is stopping short of blue lights. He does have two blue oblong reflective stickers on his fairing which are positioned in a way which is remarkably similar to a police bike’s flashing blue lights. Is he committing any offences?


The riders who volunteer for blood runs with SERV (Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers) are “getting away” with nothing. They are authorised to be “blue lighted” as are, for example, military bomb disposal and the coastguard.

Your acquaintance has crashed through what was already thin ice. A motorcyclist wearing a white helmet and a Dayglo jacket, riding an ex-police bike with no other markings, is doing nothing wrong. Your acquaintance is, in my view, very far over the line of Section 90 of the Police Act 1996 because he is wearing “articles or an article of police uniform in circumstances where it gives the appearance so nearly resembling that of a member of a police force as to be calculated to deceive”. None of his kit might be police issue, but clothing that closely resembles police kit falls within the definition under the Act.

I think he crossed the line with his reflective markings. He crossed further over the line with the reflectives, designed to mimic police blue lights, and he smashed out of the other side of the line with his “Polite” jacket reflectors. He would be committing a further Construction and Use regulation breach by having flashing headlights. Only authorised blue-light road users can have lights other than their hazards flashing.

The “Polite” jackets do not, on their own, so closely resemble police kit that they will get anyone into trouble. But your acquaintance’s ensemble is pretending to be a bike cop with the intention to deceive. It won’t be long before he has his collar felt by a real rozzer, with a real warrant and a real power of arrest. If he starts bullying through traffic with his lights flashing he will find himself nicked. And I think the conviction would get home. His only line of defence might be that there was “no intention to deceive”.

The legislation was designed to stop people impersonating police officers as a prelude to serious criminal offences – parliament did not have your odd acquaintance in mind. However, he clearly wants people to act on the presumption that he is a real motorcycle officer and to change their behaviour in response to his appearance.

He would need to explain that if he had stickers for safety purposes why he chose blue and green as opposed to red or orange or neon pink. He would also have to explain why these were arranged in the ‘Battenberg’ markings used by emergency services. There is nothing stopping him making himself visible and conspicuous, but the fact he has done it in a way that so clearly apes how police make themselves known requires a rational explanation. To me it looks calculated to deceive, and I suspect it would look the same to a bench of magistrates.

Andrew Dalton

RIDE Magazine, September 2015

Disclaimer: The legal advice and statements contained within this/these articles is correct at the time of printing. If you are seeking legal advice after a motorbike accident please contact us to speak directly with one of our lawyers.

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Last modified: March 26, 2018 at 11:26 am

Andrew Dalton is a highly experienced trial lawyer who delights in taking on difficult and demanding motorcycle cases. He has a tough and relentless litigation style and is utterly focused on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.


  1. Chris MartinOctober 29, 2018

    Hi I have an ex police bike , I am an ex registered male nurse , as I wish to be a first aid helper as a volunteer, on motor ways , if I put green decal on my bike , and wear a white helmet with green checkered band on it , and having full medical kit onboard would I run fowl of the law , thank you for any help you may give me . Chris

  2. Andrew DaltonNovember 7, 2018

    The green banding is not indicative of as Police rider. There is no offence of looking like a paramedic but use of any flashing lights on your bike would certainly run you foul of the law. If you are a registered First Responder then I cannot see any problems and even if you are not I cannot see you are committing any offence that I know about but I could see you running into at least criticism if you attended a scene and people presumed you were a despatched paramedic. If you turned up looking quite like a registered paramedic and as a result an ambulance was not called then I fear your presence would not be especially helpful. I also carry a small first aid kit and I am reasonably up to speed with first aid but I am a bit unsure as to why you would use a green chequered band. A white helmet and a dayglow is absolutely fine. A sticker on your bike saying “First Aid Kit” is fine but what purpose does it serve? You know you have it. If you come across a situation where your skills could be deployed you would deploy them and you already know you have a comprehensive first aid kit. I would for purely practical reasons avoid looking anything like a member of any emergency service. I do not think you are committing an offence but I think you would be well advised to drop anything which makes you look like an official service, not least because if you treated someone who made a reasonable presumption that you are a paramedic and he or she consented on that basis then the consent would be on a false premise. I have carried out basic first aid by the side of the road in a race replica helmet, dark visor, branded leathers and race boots with absolutely no first aid kit and I was mistaken for a police officer – simply because I was on a bike and basic first aid skills so it is easy to imagine someone being misled by your semi official looking gear. As there is no good reason for you to adopt a semi official look, I really think you should drop it. I can see people being confused and wrongly consenting to treatment by you.

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