The camera never lies

The camera never lies

Like a lot of riders I have a bike-mounted camera, but can these cameras bite your backside if things go wrong?

The fundamental limitation with cameras is they catch one, admittedly fairly wide, angle. So, if you are side swiped on a roundabout they may not add much. If forward mounted they would demonstrate a classic T-bone crash but these do not take a lot of proving.

I have been involved in a fair few cases where the moment of impact is caught on camera and cameras do no harm, but I have also been involved in the defence of riders whose exuberant riding has been filmed by the rider himself.

The Police have limited statutory powers to seize the camera in evidence. There is no statute which specifically gives the Police licence to take the Go-Pro off your helmet, but Section 19 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act gives a general power of seizure where the Constable has reasonable grounds for believing it is necessary to see something, in this case, an SD card, in order to prevent evidence being concealed, lost, damaged or destroyed.

But the law is from 1984 and does not really take into account bike mounted cameras. However, there might be some argument as to whether Section 19 applies to a motorcycle because while it gives the police power to search inside a vehicle it does not give power to search on a vehicle.

So, if you are tugged and the Police have grounds to question you about your riding then they do have the right, if they have a suspicion of some wrong doing, to seize your camera if it is mounted on your bike. On your helmet is much more dubious.

If you have a camera with a display then you may have a socially awkward moment with the Police Officer because he can only demand sight of your video if he has grounds for suspicion. If there is no playback facility, he will either let it go or arrest you and seize the camera. If the Constable, without reasonable grounds to suspect a serious offence, gets you to show him your video without cautioning you then the evidence would usually be inadmissible.

So, are cameras a good idea? I think a discretely mounted camera which only the most eagle-eyed of coppers would see, could well be an investment worth having. There is certainly one case I have been involved in which was lost at trial, where if my client had fixed a video to her bike, she would have won.

I have also gone to trial on a roundabout case where the video camera did not assist at all in the positioning of the vehicles because it all happened behind and to one side, but what it did show is that the driver could not have been where he said he was, because if he had been he would have shown up on the video. As I said at the start, I for one have voted with my feet and have a discreet camera mounted on my bike.

Andrew Dalton

Bike Magazine

January 2016

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Last modified: March 26, 2018 at 11:22 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.

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