Marylebone Magistrates Court, London
Did you know that in the Royal parks, certain activities are deemed illegal? Notably, playing a musical instrument, flying a kite, playing any game, or engaging in any form of sport or exercise.

At Marylebone Magistrates Court yesterday a case was heard regarding the legality of Rollerblading in the Royal Parks. Ever since an collision involving a skater and a cyclist resulted in the accidental death of the cyclist, signs have been posted in the parks forbidding both activities. The case yesterday questioned whether or not it was in fact an offence to participate in these activities in the park.

In May of this year, Mr. Martin Brass was stopped by Police in Regents Park whilst skating to work one afternoon. PC Watson (PC33) of the Parks Police told him that it was 'illegal' to skate in Regents Park, and asked whether he had seen the painted signs on the pavement forbidding Skating and Cycling. Mr Brass was summonsed under a regulation of the Royal and other parks and gardens regulations, that he failed to comply with a direction for the regulation of skating given by a notice exhibited by order of the Secretary of State.

Mr Brass, represented by Mr Richard Bentwood (Barrister at Law, instructed by Meaby & Co.), argued that it can not be an offence to Skate or Cycle in the park, merely because a sign has been painted on the pavement, but rather such a sign must have posted by order of the Secretary of State for the offence to have been committed.

Mr Bentwood stated that if it were not the case, it would be possible for a sign to be painted forbidding 'fast walking' making that activity illegal, as fast walking would come under the umbrella of 'any sport or exercise'. When the prosecution rebutted that 'any intelligent or normal' person would have known that it was illegal, Mr Bentwood stated that this case was not a question of intelligence or normality, but that it was a question of the law.

In point of law, a painted sign on the pavement does not constitute a sign posted by order of the Secretary of State, and therefore, in this case, no crime had been committed. The Magistrates agreed and the case was dismissed, but not before an important point had been made.

Bearing in mind the number of deaths that occur on the roads each year, should it really be illegal to Skate or Cycle in the Royal parks?