Bastable v Little: 1907

The police had set up a series of speed traps in London Road, Croydon. Mr Little occupied himself giving warning signals to drivers approaching the traps, thus ensuring that they did not exceed the speed limit. There was no evidence that the drivers were exceeding the speed limit at the time when they received Mr Little’s signals, although all slowed down. The defendant had been charged with obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty under section 2 of the 1885 Act.
Lord Alverstone CJ said: ‘Suppose a party of men are engaged in the offence of night poaching, and a person passing near warns them that the police are coming, I think it is clear that that could not be held to be an offence within this section. We must not allow ourselves to be warped by any prejudice against motor cars, and so to strain the law against them.’
Darling J made the point that there was no evidence from another driver, and added: ‘In my opinion it is quite easy to distinguish the cases where a warning is given with the object of preventing the commission of a crime from the cases in which the crime is being committed and the warning is given in order that the commission of the crime should be suspended while there is danger of detection, with the intention that the commission of the crime should be re-commenced as soon as the danger of detection is past.’


Lord Alverstone CJ


[1907] 1 KB 59


Prevention of Crimes Amendment Act 1885 2

Cited by:

DistinguishedBetts v Stevens 1910
The defendant, an Automobile Association patrolman was accused of obstructing a police constable in the execution of his duty. The police had set a speed trap, and the defendant had warned approaching vehicles of the trap. At the time they were . .
CitedGreen v Moore 1982
The respondent, a probationer police constable was convicted for obstructing police officers in the execution of their duty under s51(3) of the 1964 Act. He was a regular in a bar he knew was to be raided. He warned the landlord who complied with . .
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions, Regina (on the Application of) v Glendinning Admn 13-Oct-2005
The defendant had been accused of obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty by warning motorists of presence of a police speed trap. The prosecutor appealed from dismissal of the charge.
Held: ‘the hand signals given by the . .
DistinguishedHinchcliffe v Sheldon QBD 20-Jan-1955
The appellant was the son of the licensee of an inn. On returning to the inn one night at about 11.17, he found that police officers wished to enter the premises as they suspected that the licensee was committing an offence under the Licensing Act . .
CitedLunt v Director of Public Prosecutions QBD 1993
The defendant had been in a road traffic accident. The police came to his house to investigate the accident, but he refused to unlock the door to allow them entry. Stating reliance on section 4 of the 1988 Act, the officers threatened to force . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Road Traffic

Updated: 17 May 2022; Ref: scu.235212