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Josh Maday’s walk home and scare mongering from the Fairfax press

I have some serious reservations about the compulsion to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle but that is by the by, This story concerns a couple pf police constables who decided  Josh Maday, who was riding with out a helmet should have to walk his bike home rather than re-offend by riding home. To make sure that he did this they made him let the air out of  his tyres. This was done to avoid them issuing the boy with a $100 fine. Frankly this seems like quite a reasonable action akin to taking a driver’s car keys if they are not entitled to drive especially as they had caught the boy only 3 km from his home.

Yet if you read the report of this story in the Brisbane Times you would think that they had locked  the boy in the same room with a paedophile. The story is reported differently in the Courier Mail where the emphasis is on public opinion supporting the actions of the police. It is the responsibility of every road user  to ensure that they obey the traffic act and it is the duty of our police officers not to ignore clear breaches like failing to wear a helmet.  There is nothing darkly magical about the place where Daniel Morecambe was last seen and it is no more  likely that another child will be abducted form the same area after all this time. Personally I think the officers did precisely the right thing when they made the boy  walk a measly 3km home which is enough for him to learn the error of his ways but not enough for it to put him in harms way (as the Brisbane Times wants to suggest) a $100 fine would have been a serious burden to his family so all in all a good piece of community policing, unless you think like a Fairfax journalist, or a Latte Sipper™…

Cheers Comrades


24 Comments

  1. Ray Dixon says:

    Actually Iain, I don’t see a lot of difference between the way the two papers have reported the story. If anything, the conservative Courier Mail gives more detail on how the police could and should have handled this differently:

    Assistant Police Commissioner Ross Barnett said officers who found the boy riding without a helmet at Sippy Downs on Saturday could have handled the situation differently.

    He said the officers had been trying to avoid fining the boy, and at the time considered it appropriate to order him to deflate his tyres and make his own way home.

    “But on reflection they probably could have done something a little bit differently,” Mr Barnett told ABC Radio on Monday.
    […]
    He said that, in hindsight, the officers may have considered dropping the boy home with his bike.

    “That certainly was an option that perhaps on reflection might have been a better course,” he said.

    I think this case demonstrates how stupidly over-protective we’ve become. Okay, the kid wasn’t wearing a helmet. Like, big deal – the only person he was endangering was himeslf, so how is that similar to taking a drunk’s car keys? It’s not; it’s too punitive and vindictive. Just give him a warning and tell him to ride directly home.

  2. Iain Hall says:

    The police would be wrong to suggest that the boy should ride home because to do so would be committing an offence that as officers of the law they could not ignore.

    The boy is 15 (a few years older than the repeatedly cited Daniel Morecambe) so old enough to walk home. I disagree that the police should have taken the lad home, that is not their job nor their responsibility. Its not like they had taken him into the back-blocks and then left him to walk home. 3km is nothing, heck many of the streets around there are longer than that (I know from personal experience of the area because I have family who live near there) Its not a big deal or excessively punitive at all it makes it clear that the boy should wear a helmet without imposing a fine or giving the kid a “clip round the ear” or any other real excess .
    The Fairfax report clearly wants to play up the “he could have been snatched by a Paedophile ” angle to the story

  3. Ray Dixon says:

    Police ignore non-helmet-wearing bicycle riders all the time (even around here in Bright, which is the cycling Mecca of Australia) and they would be well within the law to allow him to ride home with a warning. By doing what they did (forcing him to deflate his tyres) they’ve created an unnecessary controversy and made a news story out of a non event. Fools.

  4. Charlie Milburn says:

    What if he’d been hit by a car and killed because he wasn’t wearing a helmet? After being allowed to proceed by police who gave a warning?

    Good call by the coppers. Bad call by the journos.

  5. Ray Dixon says:

    There are a lot of “what ifs” about this, Charlie. What if he’d been hit by a car while dragging his tyre-deflated bike across the road? What if he’d suddenly been caught in a downpour and got swept away and drowned? And the list goes on.

    It’s not a “good call” by the coppers to deflate his tyres. That’s just imposing a punishment outside their jurisdiction. It’s an abuse. Full stop. Do the police have the power to deflate your car tyres if you’re not wearing a seat belt?

    Give. Me. A. Break.

  6. Charlie Milburn says:

    If he’d been hit by a car walking home or swept away in a flood then that would be as it would were he walking home anyhow – without a bike.
    The fact is that the law is supposed to force (for ones own good) the rider of a bike to wear a helmet. It’s not reasonable to expect that a policeman will allow a helmet-less rider to remain helmet less and continue to ride. Had it been a light less bike at night or a seatbelt less driver then they would not have been in the right to continue to allow them to ride or drive. It is a matter of public safety and the police are responsible, in pat at least, for public safety.
    If you were pulled over driving in a car without a seatbelt, it would be labelled unroadworthy and you would not be allowed to continue your journey.
    I see it as perfectly reasonable for the police to act in the manner that they have and would imagine the tsunami that would ensue had this boy been injured or killed while riding -with police permission – without a helmet.
    In my view they should have fined the little feller, taken his bike and demanded he return to the station, with a parent and a helmet to collect his gridiron the following day.
    I’m a road user and I don’t want to have the lives of my fellow road users in my hands when they are not taking the legally prescribed measures to protect their own safety.
    It’s no different to wearing a seatbelt.

    This backlash will mean that in future there will be no warnings issued.

  7. Ray Dixon says:

    So only your “what ifs” apply here, Charlie? I see. There are many instances of police letting people off with a warning – it happens everyday and is within their discretion to do so. What is not within their discretion is to disable a vehicle (car or bike) and insist the owner push it home, in this case with flat tyres. Your unroadworthy example is wrong. Not wearing a seat belt or helmet does not make the car or vehicle itself unroadworthy.

  8. Charlie Milburn says:

    Whenever they excercise that discretion they also take a risk. In this case the risk was not deemed reasonable and rightly so. I’m happy for them to issue a warning, but if in doing so they put the lives of the public at risk then they need to make sure that the risk is reduced to a reasonable level.
    I didn’t mention not wearing a seatbelt I said a car without a seat belt. This boy wasn’t “not wearing” his helmet, he was “without a helmet”.
    If my car didn’t have a seatbelt then it would be labeled as unroadworthy and effectively disables the vehicle.
    This is cop bashing for its own sake. Wanting your cake and eating it if you like.
    The boy had to walk 3km. Build a bridge and get over it – he will.

  9. Indi Warrior says:

    aah yes another slow news day….

  10. Iain Hall says:

    well that give you a chance to keep up then doesn’t it I W ?
    😉

  11. Ray Dixon says:

    Your car & seatbelt comparison just went out the window, Charlie. Of course a car would be unroadworthy and put off the road if it didn’t have them. It’d also be a very old car and most likely unregistered. But it’s chalk & cheese to say that means no helmet = right to disable bicycle. No, the cops had no right to interfere with his property, only a right to fine him or warn him. They warned him and that was their choice. But deflating the tyres was not legal. I’ll leave it at that although I know you won’t.

  12. Iain Hall says:

    I really don’t think that the police directing the lad to deflate the tyres is in anyway illegal Ray and please keep in mind that he was not really that far from his home.

  13. Ray Dixon says:

    “Directing” or “forcing” him to, Iain? Not much difference. I think it’s going too far and even the police have said so. They’re not supposed to act like the gestapo. Although in Queensland … ?

  14. Ray Dixon says:

    Btw, Indi’s right about one thing – it is a slow news period at the moment. No need for him to hang shit on it without offering a better topic though.

  15. Iain Hall says:

    They could have legitimately impounded the bike Ray, frankly a lot of good policing is down to a bit of “Bluff the pubic” about what their actual powers to act are but you can’t escape from the fact that the kid did the wrong thing and the police used some discretion to teach the kid the value of obeying the law

    I was in a bit of a rush this morning but I can see a post on Gillard’s push to alter the constitution on the horizon 😉
    My guess is that It will inspire Indi to froth at the mouth and utter the “r” word.

  16. Ray Dixon says:

    “Bluff the pubic”?!?

    Did you mean “buff” it?

    As for the non-news story, well of course the kid did the wrong thing but, for Christ’s sake, aren’t we just being a bit precious over this bike helmet issue? There’s already a move to have the law thrown out; apparently there is no evidence whatsoever that it has reduced head injuries. I reckon it should be confined to those riding in events & races. Social cycling doesn’t really warrant it. Then again … “social cycling” – WTF?

  17. Indi Warrior says:

    “without offering a better topic though”

    I was rather taken by these words from a former leader of the once decent Liberal Party.

    “The present Liberal Party management has shown that it has no coherent idea of how to manage an economy, no coherent understanding of what is necessary. The banks make profits, so the party attacks the banks as greedy, voracious, yet the jobs we hold, at least in part, depend on the continuing strength of the banks they attack.”

    Writing in today’s The Age, Malcolm Fraser. A decent man.

    What a contrast between the Liberal party of his era and the rabble we have today.

  18. Iain Hall says:

    Fraser????
    😆

  19. Ray Dixon says:

    Actually, Iain, it’s not a bad topic. Watching Joe Hockey last night on Lateline he is certainly bashing the banks big time and, as I have said here, I think they deserve it.

    But do the Libs really have a better plan? I haven’t heard Joe (or the government for that matter) attack what I think is the undelying cause of this problem – the excessive salaries & bonuses that bank execs are awarding themslves based on the huge profits the banks are making. I reckon that’s what’s driving them to unfairly raise interest rates above & beyond RBA increases.

    Old ground, I know, but why doesn’t Joe (or Swan) suggest there needs to be changes made to the Corporations Act to prevent CEOs and senior execs from receiving profit & share-based bonuses? It’s a simple amendment and would remove the obvious connection.

    As for Fraser being ‘a decent man’, well I think since leaving politics he’s definitely tried to reinvent himself as a humanitarian. But I reckon he is just trying to rewrite his own place in history, which was (a) as a key player in the disgraceful Menzies-Holt-Gorton-McMahon era that sent us to Vietnsm in the first place and conscripted 20 year old who didn’t have a vote, (b) colluding with the GG to wrongly bring down the Whitlam Government in 1975, and (c) as a do-nothing PM himself for nearly 8 years during which our economy stagflatted and nearly stalled.

  20. Charlie Milburn says:

    A car without a seatbelt need not be old or unregistered. Why would that need to be so?
    It isn’t damaging his property to let the air out of his tyres. I assume, unless you have any other evidence, that they did this by tampering with the valve and not by slashing the tyres. But I do stand to be corrected on that.
    It is no different to confiscating keys or fixing a tyre clamp (which police have the right to do). Or affixing a canary. It effectively renders the vehicle undrivable and means the occupant needs another way home. Walking was the chosen method in this case. Good exercise. Next time he’ll wear a helmet.

  21. Tayla says:

    Through reading the first few comments made, I can see everybody has there own opinion and I respect that, but I am saying as a 18 year old – yes, I am 18 and no it does not make me ignorant and blind to what people call the “real world” and am not a child- I dont think it is right to make Josh walk 3km, I know Josh and he is one of my best friends and in response to what Charlie said earlier “build and bridge and get over it – he will” yes, he will in the future but until then, at this present moment, he has not. Some may think I am bias because he is a friend of mine and I will not lie, I am bias but, its because I know Josh and I have seen the reaction of his mother and the reaction of our school friends.

    I know Josh did the wrong thing, as does he but never in his wildest dreams had he imagined having to push his bike home after the police – who are there to protect the community – made his deflate his tyres.

    I know that earlier comments stated “what ifs” are not relevant because he got home safely. But just think for a second how it would feel for his mother if something had of happened to him? That would of been on behalf of the police.

    Say what you will about my point made but I, MYSELF do not see it as the appropriate form of punishment, and nor would a slap on the wrist but a fine would of sufficed.

  22. Iain Hall says:

    Tayla
    Firstly welcome to the Sandpit,
    I would not think less of your opinion because you are only eighteen You are and adult now and I am happy to acknowledge that fact. You are entitled to your opinion about how appropriate the police action was but just think about it in an entirely pragmatic way just for a minute.

    How long do you think that it took Josh to push his bike home?
    well assuming he is young and fit and the terrain is not that hilly I reckon that he would be home in less than forty minutes. 3 km is not that far I used to walk further than that to school and back every day when I was a lad, However if the police had followed your suggestion and issued a fine of $100 as they would be empowered to do under the law how long do you think Josh would have to work to pay off the fine?
    If he was working at somewhere like Macca’s he would be lucky to clear 12 bucks an hour and by my calculations he would have to work more than six hours to pay the fine.
    Who complain that a forty minute walk home is a greater punishment than having to work for at least six hours to pay a $100 fine?

  23. That’ll teach him not to carry a pump. He could have walked the bike around the corner, inflated the tyres and kept on going.

  24. Iain Hall says:

    Yeah BOAB its surprising just how many bike riders who don’t even own pumps let alone know how to use them 😉

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