Archives For Footage

I came across some new guidelines that all Police forces across the UK may take on board and apply to any footage taken by a road user. This came about from the below incident. I did the usual and forwarded the video on to RoadSafe London, they deemed that this was serious enough to warrant prosecution that they forwarded it on to the Traffic Criminal Justice Unit (TCJU) in Sidcup.

The TCJU looked at the incident and responded with the following.

After careful consideration of all the available evidence it has been decided that the other party will not be prosecuted for the offence of Driving without Due Care.

I can confirm however that this office has written to the other party and reminded them of their responsibilities as a road user, to drive safely and comply with road traffic law.

I thought the incident was clear-cut driving without due care. Quiet clearly the driver didn’t need to encroach into the cycle lane or come anywhere near it (watch the vehicle behind). I’m happy with the action that was taken, it is all I expected when I sent it to RoadSafe London. But I wanted to know more about why they had chosen not to prosecute. So I asked the TCJU if they could let me know why.

The TCJU responded with the following

Following guidelines of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) we decided not to initiate proceedings on this occasion.

In relation to the concept of prosecution of mobile phone and other minor traffic offences from video submissions where and accident has not occurred, the ACPO Roads Policing following guidance form the Crown Prosecution Service and expert advice from Road Policing bodies, concluded that prosecution for offences based solely upon video evidence submitted by members of the public are unlikely. The value of evidence that has not been seized and stored according to the police business processes is limited form an evidential point of view.
The ACPO recommends that a suitable letter to the registered owner of the vehicle would be proportionate where the submitted clips meet a high enough standard.

I find it strange, that the Traffic Criminal Justice Unit class mobile phone use as a minor traffic offence. We all know from research that it is more dangerous than being drunk at the wheel.

First lets look at the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) guidelines on Driving without due care

A person is to be regarded as driving without due care and attention if (and only if) the way he drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.

Well that seems fairly clear cut. I think that is well below what would be expected of a ‘competent and careful’ driver.

Now onto the ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) guidelines, this took me several weeks to get hold of as it wasn’t a document that was already publicly available and the rest of it is a story for another day. The guidelines that were sent to me reference mainly an issue with a website policewitness.com and the fact that it is falsely advertising it self as having ties with the police, when it doesn’t. There is a small mention of video footage which I have quoted below, this is what the TCJU are referring to as ACPO guidelines.

In relation to the concept of prosecution of mobile phone and other minor traffic offences from video submissions from this company, I have sought guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and expert advice from Roads Policing colleagues.

It is the opinion of such experts that a prosecution for offences based solely upon this video evidence is unlikely and I have included further clarification in respect of this in Annex 1.

I also have concerns that such an approach effectively removes the level of discretion and professional judgement used by officers when dealing with incidents or offences of this type, the value of which cannot be underplayed.

….

A prosecution for an offence via a clip submitted in such a manner is unlikely and therefore the value of such clips should be taken as limited.  If Forces are seeking an appropriate response, I would recommend that in most cases, a suitable letter to the registered owner of the vehicle would be proportionate where the submitted clips meet a high enough standard;

You may wish to consider making a clear policy decision not to act upon submitted video clips where the volume becomes unmanageable;

The idea of a ‘vigilante’ approach of members of the public standing by the side of the road with mobile phones and video cameras should be argued against for safety reasons.

And here crops up the ‘mobile phone and other minor traffic offences’, so it is Suzette Davenport Deputy Chief Constable, Northamptonshire Police, ACPO Lead For The Roads Policing Portfolio that thinks using a mobile phone whilst driving is a minor traffic offence.
Whilst the CPS and expert Roads Policing colleagues might think that it is unlikely that there will be a prosecution for an offence based solely on video evidence, the results that some video camera cyclists have had paint a different picture. There must have been at least 10 in the last 2 years.
It mentions concern for professional judgement used by officers, I don’t think anyone would question that, but why should that dismiss any video footage? The footage is information, information that you can analyse and use to make a professional judgement on a situation. Much better than a witness which may have forgotten something.
Is it not also telling that if people are concerned enough about the safety on our roads that they are making videos and reporting them to the Police, that there is a problem?

I contacted RoadSafe London about this and they forwarded my concerns to the Senior Manager of the Catford Traffic Criminal Justice Unit. Who said the following.

I have examined the case file and I believe the correct decision was made. It is of some comfort that you were not injured and that no damage was caused. Hopefully reminding the other party of their responsibilities will have the desired effect.

As I said before I’m happy with the action taken.

Whilst you are correct in that the advice was prompted by the activities of a private company who it would seem were flooding police forces with video material, the advice does clearly state that it is;
“An approach which forces may wish to adopt when dealing with video evidence submitted by this company, members of the public or any third party company”
As you can see the advice was intended to embrace all submissions falling into this category. I would agree that there have been instances such material has been used, but I would have to say that each case would have been dealt with on it’s merits and in close consultation with the CPS. This will continue to be the case. I think it is wrong to assume that the decision in this case represents a policy of rejecting submissions of video footage such as this without appropriate consideration.

He slightly misquoted what was said in the letter, that is minor. I’m pleased to see that he states each case will be looked at individually and with close consultation with the CPS, this is the way it was previously done and should continue to be. Are these guidelines adding anything to the standard process? Or are they using the power of the CPS and ACPO as a sort of reason why we aren’t prosecuting (I’m sure they can easily say why they aren’t, which is the confusing part)?

I contacted the officer marked as the contact on the ACPO guidelines and asked them if the letter was intended to be used for all forms of video footage taken or just those submitted by policewitness.com. I got the following response.

The letter gave advice on dealing with video clips submitted by members of the public or third party companies which identified ‘minor’ Road Traffic Offences. The letter detailed how video footage alone would be unlikely to lead to a prosecution in these cases without strong supporting evidence.
So it is meant for any report, which is disappointing to see.

It is a real shame to see this coming from London. There has been some fantastic work put in by RoadSafe London over the past 3 years, which has seen a massive increase in reports coming in over that time due to a huge growth in road users getting video cameras. At the moment none of us truly expect more than a letter sent to the driver from the Police, which is something that was very much unheard of several years ago.

What we don’t want to read is the following

the concept of prosecution of mobile phone and other minor traffic offences

Using a mobile phone whilst driving is a minor traffic offence?

A prosecution for an offence via a clip submitted in such a manner is unlikely and therefore the value of such clips should be taken as limited

Should a clip be deemed less valuable because a prosecution is unlikely?

minor traffic offences from video submissions where and [an] accident has not occurred

Effectively they are saying, unless you were hit by the vehicle, we are not interested in prosecuting the driver.

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this is going to change too much. It is still very rare for video footage to be used in a prosecution and where it has needed to be used, it has been. However it can easily have the effect that the Police do not care for road safety. As I said with so many road users up and down the country taking to the road with video cameras (not just cyclists) there must be something wrong with the way that some people are continually behaving on our roads. If they feel like they are being brushed aside because it is only ‘minor’, then they will lose faith in the Police force.

You can download a copy of the ACPO letter here >

When Cyclists Attack

April 11, 2012 — 12 Comments

It’s not always cyclist vs motorist, sometimes it’s cyclist vs cyclist

This nasty incident out in christchurch happened after one cyclist wouldn’t let the other pass on a narrow trail. The rider in front was brake testing the other cyclist almost causing a collision on several occasions. The full video can be watched here.

Mark Schulze, a Director of Photography and ow...

Image via Wikipedia

The popularity of helmet cameras has exploded over the past few years, hundreds of cyclists across the world are using cameras to record and tell their stories. Thousands of road users are also doing the same.

So you are in the market for a helmet camera? But where to start? Follow this guide and hopefully you will be in a position to make a choice about which camera is best for you.

Budget!

Your budget will be the biggest factor in choosing which camera to go for. The general rule is that the more you spend the better quality camera you get. Be it HD, better mounts, better quality parts used and more features.

Quality?

The biggest decision is going to be quality. HD is a great thing to have but comes at a cost, greater than £100 for a good camera with a HD chip. HD isn’t everything, you can still get a good picture without HD by choosing a camera which uses a good quality sensor. HD does often give a clearly image and has a wider lens angle, all positives.

Lens Angle

The lens angle makes a huge difference to what is captured by the camera. A wider lens angle will pick up more footage but it has it’s downsides. Wide angle lenses often create a fish eye look and elements on the edge of the film will often be further away than they actually are (making close passes look further away than they really are). It also makes judging speed on film a little bit harder.
I use a 1080p camera but run it at 960p, why? Because the 1080p mode uses a smaller lens angle and zooms the image in. I would much rather have a wider lens angle and a taller image to get the most footage I can, it makes a huge difference.

Body Format

Helmet cameras come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from bullet to cubes. When choosing what you want it is wise to take into consideration where you are going to mount your camera (It doesn’t have to be on the helmet). Square cameras look a bit silly on a helmet when you compare them to bullet format cameras but the square cameras seem to look and fit better when fitted to the handle bars. Slimmer cameras, such as the veho muvi, can also fit into the vents of your helmet, making them a bit more discrete.

Mounting

It is a good idea to look at what mounting options there are with each camera you are considering. The more expensive cameras usually have more professional looking mounts and a wider selection. If there isn’t a specific helmet mount or if you choose to make your own then it is a good idea to take into consideration how secure it is going to be. The specific helmet mounts are designed with some sort of give in it, so if you are involved in a collision then the camera will come away from the helmet and not cause added damage to your head by causing the helmet to crush more than it should do. I would suggest not to zip tie your camera to your helmet.

If the camera comes with a 1/4″ screw thread then the possibilities for mounting are pretty much endless. RAM offer some amazing options which a few of us take advantage of and mount our cameras to various parts of our frames and handlebars.

What is in the box?

It’s a good idea to check what comes with the camera before you purchase it. The accessory that you want may be excluded or in the case of the Contour cameras the vented helmet mount is not included and i know this has caught a few buyers out. So it’s important that you check and factor any additional items in the total cost of the camera.

Memory Cards

Pretty much all cameras use some form of SD card, be that standard or Micro. Most cameras come with a memory card but often one small in size. You will probably need to get a bigger memory card, but how big depends on how long you want to ride between visits to a computer or a memory card swap.

Battery

Not all cameras have a removable battery, limiting your time on the road before you have to visit a computer or wall plug. Some of these can be modified to charge of a AA battery. Other units have removable batteries, so if you are on a long ride then you can swap out the battery when one dies and continue.

Features

Some models of cameras come with some added features which can be nice, from lasers and small screens to bluetooth and GPS. Some features can be handy to have where as others are just additions which you never use. Think about which ones you need and which ones you don’t as they do affect the cost of the cameras.

Reviews

It’s worth looking at reviews of the products and see what others thing about it. Just search the camera name + review in a search engine like google. Point Of View Cameras has reviews on all the major cameras and Magnatom has done a view of some cameras and compared them against each other. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Example Footage

Pretty much each camera type is already used by a cyclist online, so search for the camera on youtube and see if someone has some footage of it in use. This can make the difference in your choice. If you see another camera cyclist on youtube that has good footage, ask them what camera they use and they are more often that not happy to let you know what they use. Although it would be worthwhile looking on their channel and see if the information is displayed there or if someone else has already asked.

Where brands make good cameras?

  • Contour / Vholdr
  • GoPro
  • Veho
  • Drift Innovations
  • V.I.O POV

Where to buy cameras?

I posted before about the use of cameras on the road and the laws behind it. But i feel i missed a few things out that are worth noting. From before we know that the general use of a camera is perfectly legal. The information commissioner confirmed that recording for personal purposes on the road is perfectly fine and that uploading footage to websites like youtube is fine, even if it includes faces or VRNs (Vehicle Registration Number). The information commissioner also confirmed that this is not braking any part of the Data Protection Act.

What about article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights

Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

Martin Porter wrote about just this, what is more important, the right to privacy or the right to live? Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights states

Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.

People have tried to spin this argument against me but the European Convention on Human Rights only applies to a state and not an individual member of the public. Let’s also not forget that the roads are a public place and there should be no expectation of privacy on them.

The Human Rights Act in the UK applies the acts from the European Convention on Human Rights to all members of the public in the UK and not just the state. But again the question is what is more important, life or privacy? The Human Rights Act states

You have the responsibility to respect other people’s rights, and they must respect yours.

How much privacy is actually broken by posting a video online? I would say minimal, everything that is displayed is public information and only friends and relatives can identify the person by their face. There have been no cases so far that relate to this so it is hard to say what the outcome would be in a court of law.

There has been plenty of media coverage about helmet cameras this year already several court cases involving footage from cameras. So far there has not been even a hint from the Police, CPS or any other legal body that using cameras and posting footage of it online is against the law.

RTC 16.12.10

June 23, 2011 — 5 Comments

It’s snowing, the ground is wet and traffic is backed up. I’m cycling in the bus lane and traffic up ahead starts moving but I miss a set of cars not moving at the start of a side road. The result is a car driving through a gap and into the side road, going straight across the bus lane without checking. It ended with me landing on the bonnet of the car with my arm taking my full weight which flexed the bonnet so much that my arm hit the engine block.

The police attended the scene and the driver spoke very little english. At the time the driver claimed that he didn’t see any lights on my bicycle, despite my bicycle laying in the street with the 900 lumen magicshine light and 240 lumen hope vision 1 light blaring on to the ground, lets not also forget the helmet mounted torch that I have which was shining in his eyes. The obvious problem is the driver didn’t look, so of course he couldn’t see.

An independent witness came forward (the driver of a vehicle that was waiting to leave the side road) and his statement matched my side of the story, which was also backed up by the video footage I had.

You would think that having video footage of the event would make everything plain sailing. Oh how wrong could you be. First I was told by the case manager that video evidence could not be used.

it is not something we would be able to use in court. This is due to the fact
it would not be seen as independent evidence and an argument could be
made to the effect that the footage could have been tampered with.

My response to that..

In at least 2 cases in 2010 video evidence was used in court to secure
convictions against vehicle drivers, they where recorded using similar
video equipment by cyclists.

My video evidence matches the statements that me, the vehicle driver and
a witness gave to the Police that attended the scene. I had not seen the
video before giving my statement and neither of the witness had viewed
or know about it.
This video evidence should not be dismissed due to the fact that an
argument could be made to the effect that it could have been tampered
with. As it clearly shows that the driver crossed across a bus lane
without checking to see if anything was in it. I have been advised that
if this is to be dismissed, it should be done so by a magistrate or
jury.

That was not the end of my issues. The MET’s video evidence/surveillance rooms are not capable of playing digital videos in modern h.264 formats. So they where not able to play the video that I had sent them. That in its self is quite frustrating. It ended up with one of them playing it on a personal laptop. How they then got it into a playable format to be used in court I do not know.

The case went to court nearly 7 months after the incident and I heard about the results yesterday, the driver was charged with Careless or Inconsiderate driving, got a £350 fine, 6 points on their license and ordered to pay £100 court fees. That is certainly a good result.

All that is left now is for me to claim back the cost of the damages from his insurance company.