The Met reporting systems downfall

Anyone that follows me on my twitter or youtube will know that recently I’ve been posting a lot of result videos, some fantastic results from the Met Police (London Police force). These are mostly detailed in my Results playlist on youtube.

I’ve been reporting to the Met for the past 10 years, they’ve had various methods, from filling out paper forms and burning disks to fully fledged online forms where you can upload footage.

The later started in early 2018 and since then I’ve made 187 reports. Nearly 70% of these reports have resulted in some form of action; warning letters, driving courses, fixed penalty notices or court action. But 28% have had no action taken!

Whilst no action responses from the Met are sometimes not what I want, I try to learn from each one and work out if I should make similar reports in the future or what information is needed. So in 2018 32% of my reports had no action taken and in 2019 that is down to 25%. I’ve also had an increase of nearly 100% in reports from 2018 to 2019, so the reduced no action is positive.

Their downfall however is the inconsistencies in the responses from the Met on what they will or won’t take action on. I do of course understand the issue with Mobile Phone offences and Barretto Case, although they should just go for not being in proper control, but that’s another story.

So lets look at two report types I have reported and the responses.

Number plate offences.

We all know that there are various things drivers are doing to change/mask their number plates. Things like putting them in the window, incorrect font, markings to make them look different and a recent trend of putting a tinting film over the top of them. Here are my reports:

Number plateIssueResponse
AS11CCCThere was a dot between the two ones to make it look like a H.No action
T11OPEThere was a dot between the two ones to make it look like a HFPN £100
Number plate too small on a motorbike and in a position difficult to readNIP
Missing number plate from trailerNIP
Different number plate on trailerNIP
Number plate using incorrect font and makes numbers look like a letterNo response
SS11ALYThere was a dot between the two ones to make it look like a H.No Action

So 7 reports over the two years. 3 are ongoing, 1 i’ve not had a response yet. But the 3 that I have had a response on are all exactly the same. A dot between the 11’s to make it look like a H. In all cases I provided a view with enough detail to show that it isn’t the fixing bolts.

The first and last were no action for what ever reason, but the second was issued a FPN of £100 for the offence. Why now are they not taking action when they have previously? I asked them, and this is the response I got:

The policy now is that we will not deal with vehicle defect offences. This is because depending on the defect, trained Police Officers need to take measurements, use specific equipment etc, and that is not something which can be done via media in case we are challenged in court

Met Police

It’s a super easy offence, the video is clear as day in regards to my recent report that had no action taken. The reason we have so many issues with people not using the correct format of number plates is because there is A. no enforcement by the Police B. a tiny penalty of £100. Now to some this is a considerable amount of money, but these are not the people that are changing their number plates.

Red Light offences

I’m only going to focus on those going through the junction, and not those not stopping at the first stop line. Whilst they are the same offence from a legal standing, I find they are dealt with very differently.

Frames since redSeconds since redAction taken
602NIP
40013.333driving course
45515.166NIP
702*23.4NIP
250.833driving course
541.8failed to nominate
6 points £826 fines
220.733Warning letter
290.966Warning Letter
1374.566driving course
140446.8NIP
290.966NIP
80.266no action
190.633Warning letter
311.033No Action
240.8NIP
110.366No action
581.933NIP

* note I didn’t see the light turn from green to red, so this was technically longer.

17 reports total, the on going ones are likely going to a driving course, FPN or court case. The ones with a very long time are ones where they mostly jumped before it changed.

No Action is a range of 8 – 31 frames
Warning letter is a range of 19 – 29 frames
driving course is a range of 25 – 400 frames
NIP means action is being taken and it’s 24 frames and up.

So there is clearly a lot of overlap on each type, which we would of course expect to some degree, I don’t think they are going through frame by frame to count how bad they are.

Now I did flag on a couple of these reports that there is this overlap. I had a no action on one which was over a second late on the red light. I was told on one report that they wouldn’t take action unless it was over 2 seconds.

We would not be able to pursue an allegation of this sort unless they went through the red lights at least 2 seconds after they change as no court would convict for this.

Met Police

Clearly given the several reports under 2 seconds that they are taking action on, this isn’t the case.

We must remember, the amber phase is shown for 3 seconds before the red on all of these traffic lights and amber means the same as red. So these drivers had plenty of time to stop!

I’ve picked these two types of incidences because they are factual and clear cut. I will of course concede that the quality of footage on other reports can lead to ambiguity as to what is actually happening and as such do agree that the footage isn’t clear enough for them to do anything.

To put this all into perspective, and why this system is a positive. Of the 187 reports made so far:

  • 61% are issued NIPs (Notice of intended prosecutions)
  • 6% are issued warnings
  • 28% have no action taken
  • 5% are awaiting feedback

Of the 115 reports that have been issued NIPs, 56 are completed:

  • 16 were sent on driving courses
  • 18 were issued FPNs (fixed penalty notices)
  • 22 went to court.

This has resulted in:

  • 178 points issued
  • £14,490 in fines

I have 59 outstanding NIPs, given the 56 results, we can expect to see a further:

  • 187 points issued
  • £15,266 in fines

My stats from 2010 till 2018 from all my reports was 1 driving course and 4 court cases, which resulted in

  • 18 points
  • £1,495 in fines.

So definitely a great improvement in how the Police in London are dealing with reports, however the inconsistency in how they handle clear cut factual reports is disappointing.

Requesting CCTV footage of yourself

For those of you that watch my youtube channel, you may have seen a video I posted where I included the CCTV footage from the bus of an incident I had with them.

This wasn’t the first time that I had tried to get CCTV from a bus company, nor the first from this company. The other times there were issues with the companies processes and the timescale for which they keep CCTV footage. However, this time was successful. Several people have asked how I did this, and if I can offer some kind of template. This post will be for that.

I built my template mostly off of the information on the ICO website about right of access.

First you will need to find out where you need to send this to, e-mail is probably best. Go to the companies website, in this case Arriva. You’ll want to find the privacy section of the website, most likely there will be a link in the footer. You will need to read or search through this page for information about who to contact with regards to data. This may come under terms such as; subject access request, sar, data protection, gdpr, personal information, access. In this case it is under a section about data protection and an e-mail is provided.

Subject: Subject access request – CCTV
 
Dear Sir or Madam

Subject access request

Please supply the data about me that I am entitled to under data protection law relating to external CCTV footage of [Bus route] on [date] at around [time] traveling north on Vauxhall Bridge A202 at the junction with Millbank. The numberplate was LC67AHO, other markers on the bus were N119 and HV387

I was the cyclist to the right of the bus going through the junction with Millbank, I request all external CCTV from the bus that includes me in it. Attached is a screenshot of my video to prove it was me at that location and that I am entitled to this data.

If you need any more data from me, please le me know as soon as possible. It may be helpful for you to know that data protection law requires you to respond to a request for data within one calendar month.

If you do not normally deal with these requests, please pass this on to your Data Protection Officer, or relevant staff member. If you need advice on dealing with this request, the Information Commissioner’s Office can assist you.

Gaz

They actually came back the next day in the morning. Which based on my previous experiences was very quick.

Re: SAR [reference]
 
I am in receipt of the below, exercising the right of access to personal data under Article 15 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
 
So that we may accurately identify you and locate the information you require, please provide the following:

Description of clothing worn on the date in question
A recent photograph 
 
In order for us to progress the request, please also forward  a proof of identity document. This could include a copy of your birth certificate, driving licence, passport or utility bill. Please send these documents to the postal or email address listed below, ensuring that the reference number is included within the correspondence.  
 
Until we have received this information, please be advised that your request will be put on hold.
 
Should you have any questions in the meantime, or feel that there is additional information that may support your request, please contact me quoting the above reference number.

Arriva

I had a bit of to and fro with them on why they needed some of this information. I provided pictures of my bike, the clothes I was wearing at that time and my helmet so they could match it up. But they wanted something with my address on it, and some information that is quite personal. I ended up giving them a restricted copy of my utility bill and mentioned that I would make a request in the future for my data to be deleted.

They didn’t explain why they wanted this at first, but it made sense in the end. As the process of making sure the CCTV is only visible to people who have the right to see it means that they sent me a DVD in the post to my home address with the footage burned on it, that was password protected. The password was sent to me via e-mail.

As Arriva said, under article 15 of the General Data Protection Regulation, data subjects have the right to know what data is held on them. They must reply to such requests within 30 days, however with CCTV processes from buses usually delete data after 14 days. It is key that you make your request as soon as possible and chase up any requests after a week if you haven’t heard back.

For UK (not including Scotland) citizens, you can use the Information Commissioners Office website as a good reference guide on your rights and how to request data.

If the company is storing and processing data on you, they must give it to you when you request it. This includes CCTV from onboard cameras or dash cams if the data is kept for any period of time. If a company tries to deny your subject access request you can ask them about how they process the data you are requesting. If they fail to comply at all, then you can let them know you will contact the ICO about them failing to comply to a subject access request, then penalties are listed online.

My knowledge of GDPR is only based around what I have read and experienced, I’m sure there are many different scenarios I haven’t covered. I will assist where I can.

Richard Duggan – Masterclass in how not to do journalism

Yesterday Richard Duggan posted an article about cyclists and how we are the most selfish and entitled road users in London.

I believe Richard has achieved what he wanted to achieve. Views on his article. Todays journalism is all about clickbait, to get your pay check you need the business to make money and the only way some of these online papers make money is from advertising. The article is full with advertising space but also broken up with links to other parts of the MyLondon website, as a reader, it’s a pain to read the article.

It is however labeled as an opinion piece, and Richard him self posted on his Facebook page that he expects hate mail for this article. There is one thing having an opinion, and there is another thing doing no research and trying to understand why something happens or why you have such a belief.

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix about flat earthers. It was interesting as it touched on the fact that many people just laugh at those that suggest the earth is flat. However this has a negative effect, it reinforces their opinions on the matter and thus increases the divide. What we should do instead is invite them into conversation and go through the scientific processes on why we believe the earth is round. In that documentary the flat earthers do various experiments that ‘will’ prove the earth is flat, none of them do.

So on that note, let’s look into the comments that Richard Duggan talks about and see why he might have those opinions and try to explain the reason why.

Barely a month has passed since I started working in London and already I have developed a deep resentment towards the city’s cyclists.

Welcome to London Richard, you’ve been here a month, I hope you are enjoying everything that this city has to offer you, it is vast and a great way to see the city is by bicycle.

Never before have I come across a group of road users so selfish and entitled

Two paragraphs in and we don’t know why yet

London’s cyclists seem to think they are a cut above the rest of us, whether we’re in cars or on foot.

Three paragraphs in…

I should note that, of course, I don’t mean ALL cyclists in London

Four paragraphs…

And I do appreciate that cyclists are doing their bit to save the planet.

Five paragraphs…
Note that the vast majority of cyclists don’t necessarily do it for saving the planet, we just enjoy cycling and/or hate driving/taking public transport in London.

However, there have been so many examples of bad behaviour among this unruly group that I’ve observed since the start of February, from the discourteous to the downright dangerous.

And the sixth paragraph. But it’s only been a month, so he must have seen some good stuff, right?

Let’s start with my number one bugbear; cyclists during rush hour.

Oh gosh. Those damn cyclists during rush hour, the blasphemy of those 9 to 5 office works that are taking to their trusted two wheeled steeds.

Crossing the road at times can feel like a death-defying experience and that’s made even worse by cyclists hurtling through the heavily congested streets of Central London at breakneck speed.

As a man that has only been in the capital for a month, many of us seasoned Londoners would still call Richard a tourist. Crossing the road isn’t a death defying experience if you do it how you are meant to. Either look for a crossing and wait, or cross where you like. I regularly do the later and it is very safe, you stop, you look left, look right and repeat until you see it is safe. I bet Richard is walking around looking at his phone and treating London like his rural Derbyshire, walking around whilst watching the birds.
If Richard thinks cyclists are riding around at breakneck speeds, wait till he sees what motorists are doing. I wonder if Richard knows that more than 80% of motorists don’t follow the 20mph speed limits!

I’ve even witnessed a number streaking through red lights, without a care in the world for the pedestrians trying to get from A to B.

I don’t condone those that go through red lights. Sure, some cyclists go through red lights. Very rarely is this done at speed, and very rarely do they do it in a way that endangers pedestrians. Remember cyclists are just as vulnerable as pedestrians, we have no protection, if we hit a pedestrian it’s likely we will fall as well.
I do wonder if Richard knows that more pedestrians are injured at crossings with red lights by motorists than cyclists each year. The statistics are available from the Department for Transport websites.

You can’t even escape them on the Underground, where cyclists can take a folded bike anywhere at anytime.

But just because a bike is folded up doesn’t mean it doesn’t take up space.

They’re even on the Tube

Travelling on the Tube during rush hour is a painful enough experience without falling over a folded bicycle that’s taking up space where a person should stand.

I wonder if Richard complains about people taking suitcases on the underground as well. This is such a problem for Richard that he takes 3 paragraphs to comment about all his bug bears with cyclists on the tube!

I also find it astonishing so many cyclists think it’s acceptable to bike around without wearing a helmet.

While there’s no law to compel cyclists to wear helmets, the Highway Code strongly suggests they wear them, for obvious reasons.

As Richard mentions in the second paragraph, helmets are not compulsory. I wonder if Richard knows what helmets are designed for? Bicycle helmets are designed to minimise concussion to the brain. But they are only designed and tested for tests at around 15mph and falling onto a flat surface, simulating a fall from a bicycle with no external forces. Not for protection in a collision with a tipper truck turning over your legs.
Countries that force helmet use such as Australia have seen a decline in people cycling but not a similar decline in injuries. There are various complex reasons why this is such, and there are many resources and studies available for reading on this.

This London junction has been labelled ‘dangerous’ and too many cross looking at their phones

A link to another post on MyLondon, I hear this is near the MyLondon offices and Richard is often crossing it.

Why on Earth would you risk your own safety – not to mention the potential additional strain you could cause to our overwhelmed A&E departments – by not wearing one?

Even if no one wore a helmet, the benefit to getting people out and exercising far out weighs the additional potential cost to the NHS from head injures. We have factors such as safety in numbers, the more cyclists we have the more people get used to them and the safer we are. And there is the obvious reduction in strain on the NHS from people being fitter.

Then, of course, there are those who cycle at night without lights or reflective jackets, again a selfish decision which can have devastating consequences.

I see far more motorists without correct lighting on their vehicles at night than I do cyclists. Espcially since most cars now have a dashboard that is lit up all the time by LEDs, it isn’t as obvious to drivers that their lights are off than it used to be. And the consequences of people driving without lights is far greater than cyclists doing so. Of course I don’t condone any road users that use the road at night without lights.
Reflective clothing on the other hand, not required and of course of no use if motorists don’t have their lights on.

And, FYI, there are cycle lanes in London for a reason, please stop pedalling away on pavements.

Cycle lanes are often filled with glass, pot holes and parked cars. You don’t have to cycle on them. Of course cycling on the pavements is not something I would personally do, but think about why people might do it? Perhaps the dangerous speeding motorists who pass cyclists closely or knock them off means that people are scared to cycle on the road.

Richard has previously been shortlisted for ‘Young Journalist of the Year’ at the Society of Editors Regional Press Awards in 2018 and 2017 according to his bio on Essex Live and his Muck Rack bio. I’m guessing he got those from his quality articles on Northumbria’s Best Bums 2015: winners and How to cheat on holiday and get away with it.

The point I’m making is that Richard Duggan is obviously looking at having some form of career in journalism and as an editor. But his opinions on cyclists are just that, opinions and mostly because he, like the majority of society, is blind to the real safety issues on our roads. Motorists kill more than 1,700 people a year in the UK. Cyclists kill on average 2 people a year. Cyclists are people, motorists are people and some people are arseholes. Don’t be blind to the majority of good cyclists that stop at red lights, have lights and don’t ride on the pavement. Also don’t be blind to the speeding motorists, phone using motorists and the motorists going through red lights. Those are the real danger to our pedestrians in our city, along with the pollution that petrol and diesel engines bring.

We must challenge our own opinions, do good quality research and try to understand why people do various things. Richard I hope you enjoy London as much as I do, hopefully you’ll find shortly that cycling is by far the best mode of transport.

Should sentencing be tougher?

Last week Road.cc published a post about motoring offences and tougher sentencing. Certainly we can see from their post that there is such a variance in how offending motorists are changed in these cases.

They touch on the fact that we need more than just tougher sentencing to drivers that show willful neglect to the safety of others. We also need:

  • Better driver training
  • Investment in cycling infrastructure
  • More substantial driving bans and non-custodial punishments.

I think we need two further things: Stricter following of points system and more traffic police.

Every year or so there is an article in the press about how many drivers are driving with more than 12 points on their license. Our current system works based on a points system where you are allowed 12 points on your license, after 5 years these are removed. If you go over the 12 points then you lose your license. But it seems that claiming exceptional hardship to not having your license results in you being allowed to carry on driving. This undermines the system. Everyone knows how this works (or should do) and if you are close to the 12 points limit then you should be careful.

This BBC article from 2017 states that over 10,000 motorists are driving with more than 12 points on their license. That’s 10,000 people who for some reason can’t follow the rules and as such accumulated more points that allowed. Because of magistrates allowing people who plead exceptional hardship for various reasons (along the lines of not having a car will impact their lives), these should have been reasons for driving safely, especially when already accumulated points on their license. This makes the system a mockery, those of us who drive safely and understand the potential danger we could cause with our several tonne vehicle when driven at speed or distracted, are doing so pointlessly when those that should be punished harshly for not following the rules that they must do with in accordance of their license go basically unpunished.
Worth noting that the DVLA have said that the 10,000 motorists reported to have more than 12 points on their license also included motorists who had already served a ban for said points and as such the figure isn’t totally accurate.

We also need more traffic police, with cuts to police forces across the country, one of the first hit front line units is the traffic unit. This has an unfortunate affect or people not being pulled over for their driving mistakes and learning that they need to do better. As a result people get bad habits, and drive with the impression that they won’t get stopped for doing anything.
Often you will hear people say that it is a waste of time doing minor traffic stops and the police should focus on more serious crimes. In reality however these minor traffic stops can and often result in more serious crimes being picked up.

I already see there is a huge variance in how police forces deal with traffic offences reported to them via members of the public. I posted at the end of 2018 about the successes I’ve had with my reports to the MET. Comments that I often get back on tweets like these are from other people in the country saying how their police force doesn’t care and does nothing.
I’ve reported to the MET for the past 9 or so years and have seen a massive change not only in how to report but also of staff levels and commitment in future technologies. Their current online reporting form is very impressive, it’s regularly updated, with one of the more recent updates being the ability to upload video footage on their portal.
It’s so impressive in fact that they and providing the same form to other police forces around the country. Surrey police for example use the same form.

A response to the LTDA, Taxi and Kamil

On the 30th of October 2018 issue 430 of Taxi was published. A ‘newspaper’ published by the LTDA for its members. Page 17 of that issue contains comments from taxi members, we will be looking at the comment from Kamil.

GIVE CYCLE GAZ THE SLIP
I was recently involved in altercation with Gareth Williams [pictured] known as CycleGaz on YouTube. I want to alert and warn other black cab drivers about him. It’s so easy to be trapped by his video recording tactics, and the lengths this individual will go to give us a bad reputation on the road. His videos can easily go viral should a driver interact with him.
In my case, I saw him on Brixton Road. Gareth was wearing a face cover in an attempt to disguise himself so he could not be recognised. The moment he attempted to get close to me, I drove off. He has a video hidden in his head gear and it’s not visible. He attempted to get close to my window in order to converse with me and get my face shot, while revealing the contents of my dashboard. As you will see if you watch the video, but I never gave him the chance.
I just wanted to raise awareness of CycleGaz’s activities and his vigilante cyclists. Also, with him were two other cyclists.
He reported me to the police. The police watched the footage and found nothing. As result no further action was taken.

watch the video

kamil

When I first read this I chuckled, as clearly from the description Kamil gives it isn’t me, as I don’t fit that description or behaviour type. Then I watched the video and it links to one of mine! This was the incident that sparked me to get a helmet camera again.

I was cycling through Brixton and was passing Kamils cab, he was holding his phone in his right hand just below the door line, looking down at it and interacting with it. This is just before sunset, and there is light rain. He has a passenger on board. I called him out on his phone use and that was that. Further down the road the lane merges and he is clearly being an arse over it and won’t let me merge. Very professional driving, but what do we expect from someone that was just caught using his mobile device whilst having a passenger on board.

Kamil is correct that the Met took no action, I did report his phone use and what I would call intimidating driving to them. I believe their response is fine, the evidence I recorded on that day was not sufficient for them to take further action and as a result of that I got another video camera that I use on my helmet to get video footage of drivers using their phones. So thank you Kamil for spurring me on to get a helmet camera again.

What’s interesting is that the incident description that is published in Taxi issue 430 does not match the video footage it links to.

  • You can clearly hear my voice, so unlikely I’m wearing a face cover (I never cover my face anyway).
  • I didn’t attempt to get close to him.
  • I don’t have video in my head gear that is hidden.
  • I didn’t attempt to get close to his window to get his face shot (the cameras I had at the time are attached to my bike) or go near his dashboard (remember his phone was in his right hand when I saw it, not on has dashboard).

Taxi also published a name ‘Gareth Williams’ and an apparent picture of me. Now that name isn’t hard to find, it’s a name that has been used by the media when quoting me. Is it my real name? Maybe, maybe not. It could be described as the ‘John Smith’ of Wales. The picture posted is not one of myself, but of another cyclist who is based in Manchester. How would Kamil know that it was me anyway? As according to him I had a face cover.

Kamil drives a nice Vito Taxi and with that he has the Taxi Witness system installed, he has a sticker saying as much in his rear window. Why hasn’t Kamil released footage from his cab that backs up his statement? Why didn’t he use it as a reference to aid him in my description? Is it because Kamil has the three camera system that includes a camera in his cab that points at him? Incriminating him self isn’t such a good idea, so I can see why he hasn’t released that.

Why has Taxi published this? Why haven’t they spent the time to review it? They didn’t contact me first despite publishing what they believe to be my full name and a picture of me. As a result of this I’ve had numerous tweets and messages from Taxi drivers who want to find out more information about me. Some have threatened to run me over. Some have lied about previously having ‘dealings’ with me.

The underlying message of this piece in Taxi is fine and should stick, the method is all wrong. There are many cyclists on the roads who film, just like I do. Many of us will report you to the police if we see you breaking the law. Remember you are professional drivers who drive people around as a service. You must behave and take peoples safety seriously. I’m not starting fights, I’m not looking for issues, I’m not a vigilante. I’m just reporting what I see. I am CycleGaz