This may be a tiny bit London-centric, and if people being pushed off their motorbikes to have their bikes stolen is not yet a problem for you, in your local area, then I am genuinely happy.
So far In 2018 we have had three clients pushed from motorcycles by feral gangs, usually on fairly high capacity scooters and of these there were two ‘successful’ thefts and one where the rider with a quick and aggressive mindset managed to keep hold of their motorbike.
So, what can you actually do if confronted by a gang? Firstly, unless you have good and well-honed fighting skills, your motorbike can be replaced, but you can’t. Let it go.
But If you take a hard line, you are big enough, hard enough and skilled enough in combat to get physical, what does the law say? Simply, a person can use reasonable force in self-defence, defence of property, the prevention of crime or to lawfully arrest an individual.
So if someone pushes you off your motorbike and you believe it is for theft, you can fight back. But how hard? Pushing the thief off your bike would be wholly reasonable, or twatting him across his head with your crash helmet or a good head butt from inside your crash helmet would definitely fall into reasonable, because the law does not expect that you ‘weigh to a nicety the exact measure of defensive action’ but if having knocked the thief to the ground, with him pinned under your bike you then proceed to stamp on his neck and head you have then leapt over the line of reasonableness.
Be careful though not to compare the level of force you can use to defend yourself in a street robbery to that which you can use against a burglar. Because a burglar has entered your house, the test is very much lower on the burglary victim. It is only where the householder’s force is grossly disproportionate that the criminal law will intervene.
If you are being robbed of your bike you can lawfully fight back hard, but the key is knowing when to stop, but you can go quite a long way. If, for example you got a compliant thief into a choke hold and you then asphyxiated the thief to death that would be disproportionate, but, if the thief died resisting your attempts to detain, awaiting the police, then in my view, you fall within reasonableness, and the law recognises the red mist of adrenalin and fear.
A Judge, applying the law, would have to direct the jury that the test for say, a motorcyclist up for GBH for the violent stopping of the theft of his own bike was and is ‘In a moment of unexpected anguish had the motorcyclist attacked on his bike, done only what he honestly and instinctively felt necessary, and if he says that is so with credibility then that Is very potent evidence of reasonableness’ I paraphrase the common law position since 1971, which now forms statute law.
Bike Magazine September 2018