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Police swoop on teen cyclist
A TEENAGE girl who forgot to pay a £45 fine for cycling on a pavement was locked up in a cell after being arrested by ten police officers in the middle of the night.
Dinah Allan, of Olympian Court, off Lawrence Street, in York, has described the terrifying moment she was taken from her home in handcuffs and put into the back of a police van.
The 19-year-old then spent a night behind bars before being taken to court in the morning to face York magistrates.
She was sentenced to one day's imprisonment, but was released because of the time she had already spent in custody.
Dinah, who works full-time as a cleaner and has no previous convictions, said: "I was really scared when they came to my house and took me away.
"It was horrible. I was there from 1.30am until I was taken to court the next day and then I had to wait in a court cell until noon."
Her angry father, Clifford, who was in the flat when Dinah was arrested, said: "You'd think the police would have better things to do with their time than come chasing after a £45 fine for cycling on a pavement.
"They never sent her a warning letter and she just completely forgot about it because her sister has just had a baby and paying the fine wasn't top of her priority list.
"I just think it's disgusting how they treated my daughter - it was completely out of order and it's tax payers' money they're wasting."
Speaking in court, Dinah's defence solicitor, John Ratcliffe, questioned the police's handling of the situation.
He said: "This is a young lady with no experience of the court system who spent a night in custody for the non-payment of a fine imposed for riding a pedal cycle on a pavement.
"I find it distressing to find that the manner in which she was brought to court was the execution of a warrant by ten officers at 50 minutes past midnight at premises where there was an 11-week-old baby inside.
"I ask myself, surely the police could have contacted this young lady by letter to say they have got this warrant and can she make arrangements to turn up at the police station?"
He said Dinah had been experiencing difficulties with the family and home circumstances and had simply forgotten about the fine.
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said they would be happy to respond to a complaint made through the formal process, but denied there were ten warrant officers involved.
She said: "There were four officers who attended an address in York to arrest two women for non-payment of fines.
"If there are two offenders involved, it is normal to send four officers and two vehicles."
The second woman was Dinah's sister Katerina Allan, who was arrested for non-payment of a £120 fine for theft.
When she appeared in front of York magistrates, they reduced her fine to £80 due to the fact she had served one night in custody following her arrest.