A bit of context:

Yesterday I was near Oxford Street, London, near to a T junction that has traffic lights. A few police officers on motorbikes, using whistles (not sirens), stopped oncoming traffic and allowed two Range Rovers through even though the traffic lights were red.

Therefore, what circumstances are police able to use there powers to stop traffic for a convoy?


The power stop the traffic is at s.163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988:

(1) A person driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road must stop the vehicle on being required to do so by a constable in uniform or a traffic officer.

(These riders were probably from the Metropolitan Police Special Escort Group)


A police officer in uniform is entitled to issue directions to road users at all times. Those directions override signage and laws relating to things like traffic lights.

There are probably police rules about when they are supposed to do so (and breaking those rules would render them liable to disciplinary action), but as far as the law is concerned "whenever they feel like it".

  • 1
    Could you provide a source for this? Mar 3 '16 at 14:10
  • 1
    @SteveMelnikoff: It's in one of the Road Traffic Acts, but I don't know which one. Mar 3 '16 at 21:12
  • Re: "whenever they feel like it" is actually true under s.163 RTA1988, but the preferred terminology is "the officer does not need to have any particular reason to stop the vehicle and there is no obligation to explain why the vehicle has been stopped"
    – Rock Ape
    Mar 22 at 13:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.