Cyclist gets hit from behind, police do nothing

February 3, 2016 — 15 Comments

That is what is being reported over the following video

But it is a little more complicated than that. As someone with extensive experience in dealing with the Police, CPS and the Courts in similar cases I thought I could shed some light on this, however I saw that a user called Dan S on road.cc posted a very good summary, it is listed below.

  1. It’s a hire car.
  2. The police did what they should have done and served a s172 notice, requiring the hire company to tell them who hired it.
  3. The car had been hired out to a man but with two permitted drivers: him and a female. They were also served with s172 notices requiring them to say which had been driving.
  4. They declined to say who had been driving. This is obviously extremely reprehensible. Note that at this point the fact of its being a hire car becomes irrelevant. It is exactly the same situation as if my car hits somebody (or just goes througha red light/speed camera) and my wife and I refuse to say which of us was driving.
  5. A few people have said that the failure to find out who it was shows that the police either don’t care or are incompetent. This is simply wrong. It is conceivable (likely, in fact) that the car went outside the view of CCTV. In any event the police would not have gone to CCTV until it became apparent that the car was a hire and the hirer wasn’t complying. Doing so would have been a complete waste of resources as most people do comply. By the time they got that far it is likely that any CCTV other than city council would have been wiped – most provate companies keep their CCTV for short periods only, to save space. You can only check out an alibi if they give one – they may not have done so.
  6. The same goes for mobile phone positioning, with the added complication that it is very difficult and very expensive to do a precise triangulation of mobile phone position. The bit that can be done relatively easily is call data. That just shows you which cells were used and this is not sufficient to say exactly where you were (it can be a range of several kilometers). It also only works if you are actually using your phone at the time. Anything beyond that rough position requires very time-consuming and expensive work. By which I mean that police resources are such that it is very rare to get it in cases like organised burglary and drug dealing gangs. This does not mean that the police don’t care about this case or about cycling generally. It means that they do not have infinite resources. Add complications like showing who had which phone at the time (basically impossible in some cases) and the decision not to go down that route is entirely right.
  7. Both were summonsed for failing to stop, failing to report and failing to respond to their s172 notices. The CPS (rightly) took the view that there was no prospect of conviction on the failing to stop and failing to report for exactly the same reason that there is no prospect of a conviction for dangerous driving: it is impossible to identify the driver. This, by the way, is not the CPS being incompetent of uncaring or a bunch of car drivers who cyclists. It’s the CPS applying the law.
  8. The male (presumably it was he who hired the car) was convicted of failing to answer the s172 notice. The female doesn’t appear to have been convicted, which makes sense – she would only be lawfully required to reply if she was the driver. Since we would only have the male’s word for that, she wouldn’t be convicted (the Prosecution not being able to rely on a Defendant’s word in their case).
  9. The male was fined £150. This is shockingly low. The maximum is £1000. This low fine is not the fault of the police or the CPS. It is a decision taken my magistrates. They have sentencing guidelines that they have to pay heed to but are free to excedd in appropriate case. Personally I would have thought that this justified a higher fine but I (like everybody else here) don’t know the details of what led to the decision, so cannot say for certain.
  10. The male received 6 penalty points. This is the maximum penalty in terms of driving punishment. The fact that this is the maximum is not the fault of the police, CPS or Magistrates. It is the fault of the Parliament of 1988 that passed the Road Traffic Act and of every Parliament since that has not increased it.
  11. Personally I feel that the penalty for willfully failing to provide details should be the same as the penalty for whatever offence the unidentified driver committed. It isn’t. If those who are talking about writing to MPs want to put something useful in their letters, leave aside calls for expensive infrastructure and education that will probably be ignored. Write and suggest an amendment to make wilfully failing to supply driver details punishable with the same penalty as the offence that the driver committed. That’s the actual lesson from this case.

This is not a case, as far as the reports show, where the police have been lazy, incompetent or uncaring about cyclists. Nor have the CPS. The only reprehensible behaviour has been by the driver and possibly by the other eligible driver (I say possibly because it may be that each said it was the other, in which case the non-driver has done nothing wrong). And possibly the court sentenced too low but really would a £1000 fine have reduced the justifiable sense of injustice here?

It is also a case that highlights a problem with the current legislation. That is not something that can be fixed by the police, the CPS or the courts. It needs a Bill in Parliament.

I shall add to point 9 that these fines are usually based on the income of the individual. I say this based on being involved in cases of the same nature where people have declined to say who was driving.

Gaz

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Gaz is one of the well known cyclists in a growing community of those using cameras. With over 30,000 Youtube subscribers and more than 6,000,000 online video views, his channels and videos are among some of the most popular of their kind. Gaz has spoken on Radio, TV and in national cycling campaigns about the use of cameras and the power of videos.

15 responses to Cyclist gets hit from behind, police do nothing

  1. Can’t help thinking that if the drivers had been terror suspects they’d both be in Paddington Green faster than you could say ‘sequester all the cctv’

  2. Thanks for the background, and good to know that the police did act.
    But if the assailant’s weapon had been a pick-axe, or a gun, would there have been a more rigorous attempt to secure an appropriate conviction?

    • Very different circumstances there. All we know for fact is that the vehicle drove into the back of a cyclist, we don’t know the mentality of the driver. shooting someone with a gun is slightly different.

  3. Would there have been a different outcome if the CPS and police had put the drivers forward on a charge of attempted murder? Perhaps in such a case it is more serious not to cooperate with the police?

    • You still first need to know who the driver is to do that. Even if you did is that the right route to take? You take the process outside of traffic law and as such any prosecution will not need to be declared to insurance companies. Also going to be near impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was attempted murder. All we know for a fact is that the car hit the cyclist.

    • No there wouldn’t because you still don’t know who tried to ‘murder’ the cyclist… without a person to charge there is no charge!

  4. Thanks for the summary. So its bad law rather than soft cops.

  5. Is not supplying details contempt of court?

  6. I am not convinced the Police acted quickly enough, or gave it the priority it deserved, but I am only going on the complaints of mine they somehow “lost” and my latest where they applied their own very personal view on what the CPS call “driving inappropriately close to another vehicle”. With such a poor track record of acting appropriately the Police will never be taken seriously when they get the inevitable poor results we all know them so well for. CPS is very clear about what is Careless Driving, yet the Police have their own unique take which just so happens to result in them doing nothing whenever they possibly can. It clearly takes a different type of person to want to work for the Police Force and to protect and serve the community (in the way the do!).

  7. The part I find totally wrong is the magistrates putting such little value on someone’s life. You get 6 points and a min £300 fine (more if towed and pounded) for being out of tax and insurance, you get £250-500 for driving in Londons low emission zone, both regardless of earnings.
    Yet here’s a couple / person who’ve rented an expensive hire car, at least £150/200 per day. Yet they get a £150 for causing damage to a life? What message does that send? On paper you’d be more worried about driving wrongly in Londons low emmision zone?
    I would love to understand the logic and decision making behind £150 and 6 points, to me it’s utterly bonkers!

  8. All very informed but at the end of the day this just keeps dangerous drivers on the road, how can that ever be good? So police follows due process and the end result is one of the ‘eligible’ drivers gets a £150 fine and 6 points for not providing details. It completely misses the point. I despair….

  9. People’s expectations vs reality are two different spheres, possibly caused by a combination of television and the ‘twitterati’. I’ve seen a post from one ‘angry mob’ dimwit threatening to fly over from Australia and “sort out” the perpetrators of the accident!
    Just to possibly add to your 9 points addendum, doesn’t the Clerk of the Court also advise the Magistrates of possible punishment based, not only on financial declaration, but also on Crown guidelines, taking into account factors, such as the Criminal’s previous convictions and character?

  10. A couple of points you’re not accurate on:

    Point 8 – “The female doesn’t appear to have been convicted, which makes sense – she would only be lawfully required to reply if she was the driver.” Not true. Any person who receives an s.172 is required to respond. The whole point is to identify the driver – it would be rather absurd if only the driver was required to respond. The keeper is required to identify the driver, and anyone else is required to provide whatever information they have to assist in identifying the driver. If neither person responded, I would expect both to have been convicted under s.172. My guess is that either the female or both potential drivers responded to advise that they didn’t know the identity of the driver at the time, and because the male was the person who signed the hire agreement, he was the keeper and therefore was subject to the stronger requirement.

    Point 10 – “It is the fault of the Parliament of 1988 that passed the Road Traffic Act and of every Parliament since that has not increased it.” – it was increased from 3 to 6 points in 2007.

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