This is quite a popular scam in London and one in which some motorbike
(myself included) participate in on a day-to-day basis. That is to say of course, beforehand,
that this node is entirely made up, completely fabricated and based on little
or no fact whatsoever.
To cut to the chase - many motorbikes (whether that be scooters, mopeds, or
motorbikes) face an ever increasing dilemma when they ride into central London,
and that is: Where shall I park?
The majority of bike bays in London are full most of the time, most of the
day. You are deemed quite lucky to find a space, and if you are this lucky to
find a space you might have to push a few bikes together in order to fit yours
into the tiniest of gaps. For a courier or the eager commuter - time and convenience
are at the forefront of their thought process on a Monday morning. So to avoid
this hassle - one might be persuaded to park the bike illegally.
Common places include; outside a shop, on the pavement, just outside of the
bike bay, on a patch of grass, next to a tree, next to a road sign, and so on.
Anywhere, and everywhere (except in a bike bay).
Why don't the Traffic Wardens
give these criminals a ticket?
Well, the owner of the bike will cover his/her number plate up
with whatever comes to hand. A bin liner, a cargo net with some hard
plastic, or even a full on bike cover. It doesn't matter what it is, as long
as the number plate is covered up and in a secure way. To be absolutely flawless
in your crime, you need to damage your tax disc as well (as this has your registration
number on it too). Tax discs are susceptible to "weather" damage,
so flicking a small amount of water on it should do the job.
Why don't the Traffic Wardens remove the obstructing plastic cover to see the
Now for the interesting bit and the loophole in the English law - it is illegal for the Traffic Warden to
"interfere" with the bike in any way other than to place the PCN (Penalty
Charge Notice) onto the bike.
Why don't the Police remove the obstructing plastic cover to see the number
Having spoken with the local Police, it is up to an individual officer to use
his/her discretion when viewing a covered vehicle. As a Police Officer, and
unlike a Traffic Warden, he/she has specific powers to remove a cover/interfere
with a vehicle to ascertain that the said vehicle licence and tax disc are present
or not. It is his then his/her responsibility to issue (or not) a notice of
failure to display.
As a Police Officer pointed out to me, issuing a PCN by first carrying out
an illegal act (for instance, tampering with a bike cover), is the same as a
Police Officer recovering information from a suspect’s premises without
a search warrant – the evidence, no matter how damning for the accused,
is inadmissible as it was illegally obtained in the first place. The only way
your warden could have issued a ‘legal and binding’ ticket is if
a Police Officer first legally removed the cover for the traffic warden to view
the vehicle details.
Now go! And park your motorbikes wherever you see fit.
This is not my idea, whoever first dared risk a £50 fine for parking their motorbike illegally by covering their number plate deserves all the credit. As this has a huge following in London.