I parked my bike at a designated bike parking spot near a small shopping centre.
When I came back, it was on its side. I knew that there was CCTV around, so I called the police. The police got the security guy to show the footage, and it turned out that my motorbike was knocked over by two kids on BMX bikes who looked about ten.
They were trying to swap over bikes while they were riding, and it all went wrong. Both bikes and the two lads clattered into my motorbike, leaving some bike-shaped damage on one side and crush damage on the other.
The police told me that they had managed to find the two lads – they did not have to look very far, as they were at a BMX/skatepark less than 400 meters away. They admitted that it was them who knocked the bike over.
So far, so easy, you would have thought, I asked the police for the details of the lads but they said that they would not give them to me because the boys were aged under ten years old and could not be prosecuted. They also gave me the usual spiel about data protection and court rules around identifying children and young persons.
I am not interested in prosecuting: I want their parents to pay for the damage to the bike, which Is over £400. I think I have got a proper right to ask for details of the parents, for letting their boys out and about on bikes when they clearly were going to ride like a pair of idiots.
Is there any way that I can get through this police indifference, and actually find out who the parents of the boys actually are?
It is possible but I would really would not bother If I were you. It is not negligent for parents to allow nine-year-old boys to cycle in a largely pedestrianised area, or to a local skate/BMX park to play on their bikes.
In order for you to bring a claim against the parents, you would have to show that they were negligent; that is, in law they fell below the standards expected of an ordinarily prudent parent.
The courts are extraordinarily slow to impose a duty on parents to control their children. There are cases going back over 90 years where people have tried to sue parents for the wrongs of their children, on the basis that the parent should have taken greater care. These have always had very little success.
If this were an extreme example, say the parents had put a ten-year-old kid on an unrestricted motocross bike and told him to go out and play on it, that obviously falls far below the standards of any reasonably prudent parent, and they would be liable.
That is a completely different order to letting boys aged, it seems, under ten play on their BMX bikes. Even If you were to get the parents’ details, you would have no luck in suing them, and it is close to impossible to sue a child. Not least because children rarely have any assets.
I am not going to pretend to have any expertise in the obligations the police have to furnish you with the details of the boys. However, I have spoken to an ex-copper – now a solicitor – who tells me that the police have no obligation to advise you of the details of a perpetrator. And whilst there is a cumbersome civil legal procedure you could use which may get the details you want. It would cost you much, much more than £400.
There is scope in law to obtain the details of a wrong-doer from an innocent party who holds the identity of the wrongdoer but the usual rule is you pay their legal costs as well as your own if you need to find out that information.
Under the age of ten, they have no criminal capacity – or doli incapax If you prefer the Latin. Unfortunately, I think you are Just going to have to suck this one up.
RiDE Magazine May 2020