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Police sting or immoral entrapment?

2016 big for official safety recalls - Sunshine Coast Black Dog Ride 1 Dayer entrapment slump

Riders caught crossing double white lines after being delayed by an allegedly slow-moving unmarked police vehicle may have little chance of fighting the fine as entrapment.

Similar incidences have occurred before, including a 2012 incident on the Old Pacific Highway north of Sydney which the fined riders successfully defended a year later.

The latest incident involved a joint traffic policing operation by Nambour Road Policing Unit, supported by the Road Policing Task Force, other regional Road Policing Units and Sunshine Coast General Duties Officers in the Sunshine Coast hinterland over two weekends in August.

According to our sources, the police parked an unmarked station wagon fitted with video cameras about half way up a hill. As a motorcycle approached the parked vehicle it would pull out in front of the bike and reportedly travel “well under the speed limit”, “enticing the rider” to overtake over the double lines. 

Nambour Road Policing Unit Acting Senior Sgt Nathan Richards denies the vehicle pulled out in front of riders or drove well under the limit.

If the claims are true, would it be a “sting” (deceptive operation designed to catch a person committing a crime) or entrapment (inducing a person to commit a criminal offence they otherwise would not have committed)?

In this case, it could be argued had the police not intervened, those riders may not have committed any offence.

While entrapment is a possible defence against criminal liability in some countries, it is not in Australia unless the authorities are found to be doing something illegal or dangerous. That would be up to the courts to decide.

In this case, driving under the speed limit may not be illegal, although there are cases of drivers being fine for driving “significantly” less than the posted speed limit and blocking traffic.Police cops speed speeding sensation

While it may not be illegal, some may consider it immoral or unethical and worth reporting to the police Ethical Standards Command.

In the Old Pac “entrapment” case, the magistrate threw out the charge calling the police action “reckless” because the vehicle was driven erratically and dangerously.

We have seen no evidence the vehicle in the Sunshine Coast incident was driven erratically.

But was it dangerous? It could be argued it resulted in riders crossing double white lines which is a dangerous manoeuvre! Good luck arguing that in court.

Snr Sgt Richards says police “travelled at the appropriate speeds on the roads at the time”.

“If any vehicle or motorcycle rider chose to conduct an illegal and dangerous manoeuvre of overtaking another vehicle across double white lines then they were intercepted when appropriate and issued the appropriate fine,” he says.Sunshine Coast TT challenges entrapment

According to our sources, riders were intercepted at the top of the hill. One rider pulled over says he did not overtake because he thought there was something suspicious about the vehicle’s behaviour.

He says about a dozen other riders were pulled over and some were given defect notices for noisy exhausts.

Snr Sgt Richards confirms the static intercept site saying police found it “safer for these vehicles to be intercepted in a safe location rather than at the location that these persons committed these dangerous offences”.

Fined riders may choose to go to court, but they face the possibility of losing and incurring court and legal costs. They could also make a complaint to the Police Ethical Standards Command. 

It has been suggested that the heavy policing in the area has been in response to the proposed Sunshine Coast international TT.

However, Snr Sgt Richards says police have “no issues with motorcycles being present on the Hinterland roads, and welcome them to what is one of the best locations in the State”.

Sunshine Coast TT challenges
Bald Knob Rd (Photo Ian Beaton)

“We hope that they have a safe and enjoyable time on our roads. But Police will not tolerate any illegal or dangerous riding by those who are not only putting lives in danger, but giving a bad name to the majority of motorcycle riders who do the right thing and ride safely.

We have had far too many motorcycle deaths on our roads of late, all of which could have been avoided. Let’s work together to stop this from happening in the future by encouraging these motorcycle riders to ride safely, consider other road users, and to go home safely to their families.”

There is no word on whether the joint operation will continue, but these methods have been used before and will no doubt be used again, so riders everywhere should be cautious of suspicious slow-moving vehicles.

And remember, it is illegal to cross an unbroken line unless you are passing a cyclist and even then there is the caveat “when safe to do so”.

Over the two weekends of the operation, 355  riders were intercepted and 82 infringement notices were issued for speeding or crossing double white lines, an illegally modified vehicle and one for high speed.

One Notice to Appear was issued for an unregistered and uninsured vehicle and four people were also charged with driving unever the influence of a drug.

  1. Not what I’d call proper policing. Actions like this are counterproductive in my opinion: OK, they may not be outrightly dishonest, but they do portray an image of the police as an organisation willing to act unethically in the pursuit of revenue. It undermines public trust and respect.

    1. Spot on. The police already have a public trust and image problem, this does not do anything to improve it. The problem is then that the people they entrap talk. I’ve already taught my children to be suspicious of police actions due to issues with members of Qld police. And I consider myself to be a law abiding responsible citizen.

  2. Police have often used very questionable even illegal and dangerous methods to fill their quotas. There is tailgating with bright lights on pretending to be drunk and Erving up etc at lights trying to get you to race them

  3. Get rid of unbroken lines, for the most part. Leave them in place if it really matters, else let operators make a decision if its safe or not to overtake. Relying on someone with a paint brush to determine if overtaking is safe is stupid. Check out NZ for example, stuff all unbroken lines.

    The legality is the same if its a slow moving bit of agricultural machinery, or a treadly etc.

  4. A lot of bikes use that road on any weekend and there have been
    a fair few crashes, so you would expect a police presence and either
    ride accordingly or find a less well travelled road.
    Interesting point on overtaking cyclists on double lines, I’ve noticed
    a lot of drivers ]especially 4wd’s ] read the law as its ok to push
    anyone off the road coming the other way

  5. Hi Mark,
    I live on the roads mentioned in this article and I can tell you that every single weekend motorcyclists pass me over double lines (often around blind corners) when I am doing the speed limit. You do not need entrapment to find motorcycles flouting the road rules on our hinterland roads. In fact it is the norm for most motorcyclists to ignore the speed limit signs and cross double lines whenever and where ever they like. Thank goodness that the police are finally aware and taking action about this dangerous and illegal behaviour. What gives motorcyclists the right to think they are above the law? You may like to tell your followers that the Maleny and hinterland area is to be avoided in future by motorcyclists because thanks to Mr Rollins and his promotion of his fantasy TT race local residents are now hyper aware of all of the illegalities occurring on their roads and will no longer tolerate it. The increase in numbers of motorcycles “testing out” the proposed racetrack is the final straw. Local residents will be reporting offences to police and many have installed dash cams. We’ve had enough. Go and speed and break the road rules somewhere else.

    1. While I don’t live on these roads, I live very near them and travel them several times a week. As far as I am concerned responsible motorcyclists are welcome and your, dare I say, bigotted attitude is not.

  6. I’ve seen roads that have no double or unbroken lines that I’d think twice about overtaking on even on my bike and others where there is plenty of straight unobstructed view of the road ahead with either a speed camera or double lines or both. Why are they like that? Because someone fell asleep and crossed the line to have a head on or some impatient moron didn’t look properly before pulling out. But why target bike riders? It is not unsafe for bikes to overtake in many places cars shouldn’t , in fact many of the things the nannies worry about and say are dangerous are safer than not doing them. Cars trucks and bikes should be subject to the same basic road rules but with variations that take into account their differences, thankfully filtering is one such variation but the nannies have managed to screw that up a bit.

  7. I recall warning motorcyclists on this page that Rollins was bringing them into disrepute with his ludicrous TT Race joke. Continuing the theme of your article I wondered from the start why the police were supporting the race. I look now at the result and work backwards.1) Extremist motorcyclists (Illegal road racers) have emerged and are, as expected “Trying out the track”. 2) The once tolerant residents of the area are on high alert and grabbing every opportunity to report extremists. 3) the local council has a mile high pile of emails complaining about illegal racing. 4) The police have brought in reinforcements to clamp down on EVERYBODY. Who is to blame? Failed CEO of M.A. Jeremy Khan and his accomplice Rollins. When will the moderate bikers take some kind of action against these clowns? I tried to warn you.

    1. Much as the residents of maleny like to think they are
      the hub around which the sunshine coast rotates. i
      think you will find the area is policed with regards
      to what resources the police have bearing in mind they have a large
      and heavily populated coastal strip to deal with .
      As does the council who are probably sick of the constant whining
      of a few old tinfoil hat wearing hippies.
      ‘extremist motorcyclists’? give us a break steve

      1. It is reasonable to call high speed illegal racers extremists. I’m not suggesting they’re lobbing hand grenades but like it or not, compared to lawful riders they are extremists. There is no way around seeing BIKERS as a group in this conversation, I’m simply pointing out that they should not all be tarred with the same brush.

        You may not have heard about it but Mark referred to the TT race proposal himself above in the article. I don’t know where the sand pit is that you have your head in but up here on the hill the whining has reached new and even more irritating levels due, as I said to the ridiculous machinations of Rollins and Khan. The cops have responded, but don’t believe me…come up yourself and have a burl.

        1. ‘There is no way around seeing BIKERS [your caps] as a group in
          this conversation’ .Well there is unless you happen to be a bigot
          and trying to blackmail innocent riders into not supporting the tt
          What are you? the one nation candidate?
          I suggest the people of maleny who are as outraged as we are
          start a #i’llridewithyou campaign, oh crap ! i think someones
          already used that

          1. “Blackmail innocent riders”, Oh you have got to be joking. but lets see…in order to blackmail someone you need something to hold over them…hmm, something like a common sense observation of the unfolding situation as it actually stands?

            Myself and many others predicted what is occurring, your biker journalist is reporting it.
            The proposed race falls under the heading of extreme sport, participants are extremists.
            I will add now that illegal road racers due to their illegality fall under the definition of Radical Extremists…hows that?

            To continue in the analogy, the road race on public roads therefore could be described as an extremist training event. Fully televised, helmet cam’s showing the right approaches to various specific corners on our roads at suicidal speeds. It will end up creating a video training manual for hoons. Brilliant stuff. Of course the survivors of the race will be held up as heroes. Do you think no-one will try to emulate their brilliance?

            Then what was once seen as a bit of a pain that we can put up with (Fair bit of bike traffic), is suddenly seen as an invasion.

            Unless you’re suggesting that all bikers should be seen in the same light as the extremists I would suggest you accept the analogy…unless you have a more applicable term.

  8. Mark, is there any clarification on just how “slow moving” the Police were and what the speed limit was?

    1. Hi Nigel,
      No. That’s all they could tell me.
      I believe about 20km/h is considered an “obstacle” which you are allowed to pass.
      Unless someone has video footage, we won’t know exact speeds.

  9. i ride these roads 3 or 4 times a month and have only seen 2 accidents in 5 years. Both cruisers which bottomed out on tight bends. I agree to getting rid of most unbroken lines. Even at speed this is a very safe area to ride but it only takes one rider who takes big risks to upset the locals. I have had one local take huge risks to catch up in his car just to make his point. I have also been “trapped ” by an unmarked police car which partly pulled over then pulled back out into traffic to give me a ticket for crossing white lines. Complicated issues with no clear answers. Especially throwing bike registrations compared to crashes into the mix (recent report that Victoria is cracking down on motorcycle riders citing a rise in fatalities yet percentage wise there has been a 17% drop! )
    I have seen more pushbike – car accidents on Mount Mee and Mount Glorious. All for a TT as the money into the region will be huge. And it will flow on through the whole year – look at the Isle of Mann!

  10. This sort of thing was common on the Mt Nebo road a few years back. The slow moving unmarked QLD police car would also drive with the left hand wheels off the sealed road surface throwing up dust and stones at the riders behind which tended to make even the most law abiding rider try to avoid getting stone chips by going around.

  11. While we all like to complain about police behaviour
    on a poker run a few weeks ago i witnessed some
    absolutely atrocious riding including one head on
    with the bike clearly on the wrong side of the road
    over unbroken lines ,blind corner hill etc.. I would not be at
    all suprised if this is that prompted the sting operation.
    This is only a small minority ,And they are stuffing it
    up for the rest of us.Maybe it is time for us to monitor
    ourselves and make these fools unwelcome ,especialy
    at organised rides they seem to thrive on an audience

  12. My only comment is whenever you see a vehicle and suspect it, report ASAP no matter what just pull over phone licence plate number of vehicle the more people who do this the better chance of getting the Bastards of the road.
    “The Motorcyclist Judea front”
    Cowra Branch.

    1. Report it to the hoon hotline also!
      Imagine the embarrassment of a unmarked cop car being seized and crushed ;-}

  13. A good reason to have a dash cam with speed overlaid in the video, you can use this as your defence in court. Magistrate sees your speed drop 20 km/h below posted speed (throwing rocks up etc.) and then you pass so as to be safe.
    Don’t let the police know you have this evidence and just walk in the with the video to show the magistrate on a tablet or your mobile.

    1. Precisely why I always ride with DVRs and GPS recording. Nothing like fighting fire with fire and showing them for what they are.

  14. When pulled over, get off bike, throw right hand up and shout “Sieg Heil”. You will b treated like a brother and on your way.

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