Police response to close pass

On Wednesday 7th February 2018, I received a call back from the control room of Northamptonshire Police about a close pass I reported on 2nd February.  I answered the call feeling optimistic and hopeful; I’ve reported a few instances of close passes over the years and slowly but surely the responses seemed to be getting better. I immediately thanked him for returning my call.  I can imagine just how busy they are and with cuts to police forces since 2010, resources must be stretched so, as ever, I was really grateful.

I had just that very second woken up.  My phone rang and I saw a call come through from a private number. Owing to the fact I was expecting this very call, I answered it.  Therefore, regrettably, I didn’t have any of the footage, nor any information to hand.

He said that my footage had been reviewed and after taking a deep breathe, asked “errrr what would you like us to do?” in a tone that sank my aforementioned hope.  I was a little taken aback.  I began describing to him how close the 3 tonnes of metal had come to me, as he could see from that very footage.  I thought that it should be the police informing me of their feelings on the incident and present me with some options.

He continued that it was difficult to tell just how close it was.

At that point I interjected.  I took a defensive and argumentative stance.

He told me that the car before the van moved over and gave me a wide berth, to which I agreed.  That, I said, was a safe pass.  I explained that this was over 3 tonnes of metal passing at a close distance.  It was too close.  I re-framed it.  I said I didn’t want to know his personal details, but if he were to have a son, imagine his son riding his bicycle.  Would he be happy with this driver passing like this?

The line went quiet.

I moved on to explaining about the fact that this was a careless, dangerous and by being the aforementioned, was also antisocial driving.  I wanted something done about it.  I said with the police cuts under Theresa May since 2010, police forces are stretched but I stated that other police forces are managing to review evidence and they can make a judgement. I then said I would understand if I phoned and said it was maybe 5cm too and yes, this would be hard to judge.  I said that other forces are taking drivers to court for the act of close passes and using the public-submitted evidence and subsequently points and fines are given depending on the verdict.

I said, with these cuts in mind, that I didn’t want to use up police resources for this with a lengthy case.  Instead, I wanted the driver educated.  If the driver commits a manoeuvre like this again, but does so next to a less experienced cyclist, or one who gets blown in the wind, or slips on some oil, or hits a pot hole, that driver will be up for death by dangerous driving.

I asked, incorrectly for a Section 59 to be issued.  I thought a Section 59 was a warning of the confiscation of a car.  In fact, as I was informed by him, it is the actual confiscation.  The police officer refused to do that but we agreed that a warning letter about a section 59 should be issued.  If that vehicle is reported for any further anti-social driving again, the van will be taken.

I then moved on to ask the officer if he could do something about the rear back right braking light on the van.  As was shown on the camera evidence, there is a fault with light.  As far as I am aware, the police can issue a £60 fine and points, or just give a verbal warning or as I have found, can give a “vehicle defect rectification notice“.  I therefore asked if the officer could send this notice.  It was only a few days ago and the driving is still likely to be going around like this.  The police man told me that he actually needs to be caught by a police officer.  I referred him back to the police cuts and therefore the unlikeliness of this happening.

The conversation moved instantly to me asking if the police are going to simply let the driving continue driving around with the likely fault now that they know it exists. He said that it would make too much work.  I said that I am, by sending in my footage, doing a job which ideally they should do. The police should keep people safe.  By sending the video evidence in, I am doing it because the vehicle did go too close to me, but importantly could go so close to someone else that they end up being injured or killed.  He then said that they receive dozens of public generated footage every day and that I did not have to send my footage. I chose to.  He told me he has a dash cam in his car and sometimes sees some idiotic driving on the A45 but doesn’t report it. Ok.

I didn’t want to use up anymore of the police’s time.  The call sadly lasted for 12 minutes.  I was angry. The police officers handling of the case instilled negativity from me and instead of being productive, efficient and useful, was long winded and argumentative. I ended the call regretting my anger. And then I realised it was warranted. A response like this is not right.  I wonder if the police actually know the Highway Code?  Do they have training?   Do they know the pieces of legislation and regulation about the road? I thanked him for sending the warning of the Section 59 anyway and said goodbye.

Before you watch my videos shown below, here is a reminder of the rules for overtaking a cyclist:

Overtaking:

Rule 163 of the Highway Code states: Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should:

– give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211 to 215).

Here’s a visual reminder. This is a photo from the Highway Code but it is edited to show that an overtaker needs to pretend the cyclists is the width of a car when overtaking.

The police, (clearly not this particular officer) in their official cycling guidance, are recommending on 30mph roads a distance of at least 1.5 metres is given when overtaking.

And here is a screenshot from the front camera footage which clearly shows my front wheel. That’s close.

Rear cam:

Front cam:

Thanks for reading or listening.

Samuel x

Leave a Reply