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.

New Police Guidelines for Video 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 >

I Love Taxi Drivers

Ok I don’t really, the majority of my worst incidences have been with taxi drivers and they seem to be invincible! From my experience the police pass any reports to the PCO and the PCO hold their hands up and say it’s up to the police to sort it out.

The public carriage office in its current state is a bit of a shambles, I have been provided a small amount of inside knowledge from someone who was involved with the PCO from a day-to-day basis on a professional level. I won’t go into detail at present, it would be a very long post but the end result is taxi drivers in London are basically untouchable and a few of them act as if they know that.

I’ve reported various incidences of varying degrees to the PCO, in every case I’ve not had a positive response, most of them result in a ‘It’s not our job to the police the roads’ and a few result in ‘we can’t view youtube videos so it’s your word against theirs’. It normally ends there, they are very understaffed and just don’t have time to look into these cases in enough detail.

I’ve tried reporting it to the Police but the MET handed over regulation and licensing of hackney carriages to TFL in 2000 and they seem to try to push the reports on TFL/PCO.

So far I’ve gotten not a single result from anything that has happened with a black cab. If you follow what I’ve published on youtube then you will know there are some real shockers.
I have had a few incidences which I’ve been told will be put on the driver’s record, but note these where not confirmed and the information did not come from someone who worked at the PCO. So I have no way to be certain.

Transport for London have provided a handy document that outlines the laws which govern hackney carriages and it states

In this Abstract, ‘The Licensing Authority’ means Transport for London (TfL) which will exercise the duties imposed by the London Cab Order 1934 as amended by the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

So it is up to TFL/PCO to apply the laws in that document. In the document is the Standard Scale, which is the different fines that TFL/PCO are to apply to drivers when the break various laws, unfortunately the fines are maximum and do not have to be that exact amount.

  • Level 1 = £200
  • Level 2 = £500
  • Level 3 = £1,000
  • Level 4 = £2,500
  • Level 5 = £5,000

Lets highlight a few of the laws and what fines should be applied to the drivers that break them.

39. Various acts of misbehaviour by taxi driver (Act of 1843 s28; Act of 1831 s 56)

(1) The following offences are punishable by penalty (Level 1) or two months imprisonment:

(a) Wanton or furious driving.

(b)  Causing hurt or damage to any person by carelessness or wilful misbehaviour.

(c)  Drunkenness during employment.

(d)  Use of insulting or abusive language during employment.

(e)  Use of insulting gestures during employment.

(f)  Any misbehaviour during employment.

(2)  The following offences are punishable by penalty (Level 1 )

(a)  Injuring or endangering the life, limbs or property of any persons by intoxication, wanton or furious driving or any other wilful misconduct.

(b)  Using abusive or insulting language or rude behaviour towards any person.

(c)  Assaulting or obstructing any police officer in the execution of his duty.

(3)  This type of behaviour is also contrary to laws of general application, for example the Public Order Act 1986, carrying where appropriate heavy fines and/or imprisonment.

So it is up to TFL/PCO to deal with drivers who; drive dangerously, injury someone, damage someones property, swear at someone, use insulting gestures.

In several case I have been sworn at, threatened and had people driving dangerously around me. So that would mean that several drivers should have gotten fines but instead they may have a mark on their record or they got away with it.

I guess I will have to push the PCO next time I have an incident with a taxi and get them to properly deal with the driver. At present it’s a joke and I get the feeling that taxi drivers are currently untouchable which is a problem when some of them think you shouldn’t be on the road and they are king.

RTC 16.12.10

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.