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Metropolitan Police say they can't proceed due to lack of independent witnesses - although they were sent helmet camera footaage...

A London cyclist who gave police video footage that showed a moped rider kicking out at his bike as he passed him has been told that no action will be taken against the man in question because there were no independent witnesses to what happened.

The incident happened on the New Kent Road on the evening of 16 January as Chi Yong La rode home to Greenwich from his job in the West End with publisher Conde Nast.

Riding away from the kerb to avoid potholes, drain grilles and manhole covers, he exchanged words with a man on a moped who was undertaking him to his left.

As the man sped away, he aimed a kick at Chi's front wheel, leaving the cyclist struggling to maintain balance on the busy road.

"I was really shaken up," he told road.cc following the incident. "I was really holding on for dear life, making sure I didn't topple over."

Chi lodged a complaint with the police, and sent them a video of the incident - like many cyclists, he uses a helmet camera so that in the event of an incident involving a motor vehicle or pedestrian, he has something more than just his own word to fall back on.

The full video he sent to police can be seen here (contains some swearing).

The letter he received from the Traffic Criminal Justice section of the Metropolitan Policer Service's Operational Command Unit for the South East Region, reads:

I am writing concerning your complaint to police regarding the manner in which a motor vehicle bearing the registration mark GJ05FGF was ridden along New Kent Road @ 16:44 hours on the 16/01/2014.

I would advise you that it is the policy of the Metropolitan Police Service to investigate cases that have a realistic prospect of achieving a successful prosecution at court.

In view of the lack of independent witnesses to support your claim, we are unable to initiate proceedings on this occasion. However, the registered owner/keeper of the vehicle has been notified of your allegation and a record of the incident will be kept within this office.

Chi told us that the police response was "disappointing to say the least but I can't say I expect anything more."

One question the incident, and the police's reaction to it, does raise is just how seriously they take helmet camera footage, and why that should be seen as less acceptable than independent eyewitness testimony, which can be inaccurate depending on the person's recollection.

Another is that police regularly appeal to the public for help in catching suspects whose alleged crimes have been caught on CCTV, with no witnesses around, and where the footage is of much lower quality than that typically captured by helmet cameras.

In January 2012 we reported how motorist Scott Lomas was convicted of a public order offence after he threatened cyclist Martin Porter who was riding to work.

The Metropolitan Police only referred the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service after Porter had twice complained about their initial decision not to take action. despite his having provided them with helmet camera footage.

The fact that Porter is a Queen's Counsel, making him more suited than most to negotiating the criminal justice system, is likely to have been a factor in the case reaching its eventual conclusion.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

73 comments

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anyuser [68 posts] 2 years ago
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not surprised, again...

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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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Is anyone really surprised?

handing out fixed penalty notices easy, gathering enough evidence to prosecute, not so easy. Convincing the CPS.......

I suspect the paperwork piles are also small and not so small respectively.

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Jimmy Ray Will [516 posts] 2 years ago
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"no action will be taken against the man in question because... they couldn't give a flying fcuk about no damn cyclists"

Or words to that effect.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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We already knew a motorist can get away with anything in London...what else is new?

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Ush [755 posts] 2 years ago
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I am surprised.

And my respect for law and justice and those involved in it as a profession diminishes daily.

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Hamster [101 posts] 2 years ago
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Why do the police not rely on independent witnesses for murder too, that would cut their workload down too.

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arfa [807 posts] 2 years ago
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"Realistic chance of prosecution" is the killer blow, as between the CPS and a jury, it appears nigh on impossible to get a result.
I can only suggest he sends the footage to Robert Goodwill and asks what he intends to do to address behaviour like this if he seriously wishes to promote cycling

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mingmong [265 posts] 2 years ago
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p*ss poor.

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Edgeley [398 posts] 2 years ago
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I wonder if a civil case, to get damages from the mopedist for the stress and panic caused, would have any chance of success. We could crowdfund the legal costs, as we did for the defence of the chap who rightly crossed a stop line when a car was occupying the Advanced Stop zone.

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Edgeley [398 posts] 2 years ago
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I wonder if a civil case, to get damages from the mopedist for the stress and panic caused, would have any chance of success. We could crowdfund the legal costs, as we did for the defence of the chap who rightly crossed a stop line when a car was occupying the Advanced Stop zone.

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paulrbarnard [182 posts] 2 years ago
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Hamster wrote:

Why do the police not rely on independent witnesses for murder too, that would cut their workload down too.

Quite right, this could very easily have been a murder case. It should be attempted murder at least. But there I go again forgetting that a motor vehicle was involved, making murder and attempted murder completely legal.

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md6 [181 posts] 2 years ago
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Its things like this that make me feel unsafe as a cyclist, particularly as a commute cyclist. If someone is allowed to act in that way, which could very easily have led to the death of the cyclist if he doesn't stay up and falls into the next lane, then wtf can you do to be safe. Ok a prosecution wouldn't stop the act but it might, just maybe, have removed someone with clear anger issues from the road, and hopefully society too, making everyone just that little bit safer. I wonder how long until this guy does something similar and causes serious injury. Would the police be so lenient had the cyclist crashed and been injured i wonder.

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userfriendly [584 posts] 2 years ago
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Not enough that there are dangerous psychopaths on the road, what makes it so much worse are the work-shy twits in the police force covering for them. No time to do our jobs and protect people, there are donuts to eat!

Just one of the many things that are wrong with this society.

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bici1977 [42 posts] 2 years ago
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Actually, yes! I am surprised. And I am appalled that there is no action been taken!

I know for a fact that you can appeal against a decision like that and I would speak to an independent lawyer to have this driver tried! Mr Goodwin is a very good address for this sort of thing (as previously mentioned!)

There is a major public interest in having this case reviewed and even though there might not be a jail sentence or such at the end of it, it would set a precedence, which is what is really needed!

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Cantab [101 posts] 2 years ago
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Perhaps Martin porter might be interested, this is becoming a pattern.
Why is headcam footage not acceptable? Just today the Met have released "the best images they have" of three guys accused of throwing coins at Theo Walcott, they look like they were taken on a potato. http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-26014757
There is no rational explanation for this other than a total lack of care for cyclists' lives; it's like they're scared that if juries are presented with video footage of motorist actions they might actually convict on sensible charges and judges might have to award proportional sentences.
Is there no way of funding a judicial review of the police approach to headcam footage? Some way of forcing them to consider it as valuable, in fact, better than any eyewitness.

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teaboy [311 posts] 2 years ago
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Does this mean that any person convicted based on CCTV evidence can appeal due to lack of independent witnesses?

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edster99 [336 posts] 2 years ago
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I've got to agree with a number of other people - both surprised and disappointed and annoyed. How much more f*ing independent than an inanimate object can you get ?????

I'd be appealing any conviction I got based on CCTV that's for sure. Apparently they are extremely biased - the official description is 'criminalist' apparently, and we cant have that.

Aaaargh!

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Stumps [3415 posts] 2 years ago
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As a serving Police officer i find this embarassing to say the least.

the comment "I would advise you that it is the policy of the Metropolitan Police Service to investigate cases that have a realistic prospect of achieving a successful prosecution at court."

Why ?

We investigate everything in my force, if there's not enough evidence fair enough, but at least we've tried. I would be happy to investigate this with the cctv evidence.

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gazzaputt [221 posts] 2 years ago
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At least he got a response.

I had a Range Rover driver twice try to knock me off and then swerve in front of me and stop dead causing me to collide with the back of the car.

I called 999 straight away and although I was on a busy A road I was told the response car couldn't find me!

I then had a PC visit and take a statement. I had the car reg and full description which I gave. My word against his but he still left the scene of an accident without giving details.

This was last October and I've heard nothing from the Met police.

The response here does not surprise me in the least.

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edster99 [336 posts] 2 years ago
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stumps wrote:

As a serving Police officer i find this embarassing to say the least.

the comment "I would advise you that it is the policy of the Metropolitan Police Service to investigate cases that have a realistic prospect of achieving a successful prosecution at court."

Why ?

We investigate everything in my force, if there's not enough evidence fair enough, but at least we've tried. I would be happy to investigate this with the cctv evidence.

Is this policy advice just 'official speak' ? Because it needs re-writing. How do you know if it has a realistic chance of succeeding in court, if you don't investigate? To me, it reads like 'if there isn't a black and white case we wont even bother to investigate'. 'And by that I mean he rode past and handed me a signed confession after trying to kick me off' 'And you included it in your letter'

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Legin [113 posts] 2 years ago
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Crowd funding on this one? If cycling websites keep raising this type of injustice then they should be suggesting a course of action. Most of our bone idle lazy institutions want an easy life; unless you are prepared to kick them in to action things will never change. They rely on apathy!

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Huw Watkins [106 posts] 2 years ago
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Another entirely predictable outcome from the civil servants with warrant cards masquerading as law enforcers

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Wolfshade [197 posts] 2 years ago
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This is disappointing, but given Martin Porter's experiance not entirely surprising.
I think that there is a number of people who commute whom having tired of near misses have brought helmet cams to capture this in the hope that should the worse happen, there would be some recompense, some more reliable independent evidence that is better than their word versus yours.
Some of the new cameras picture quality is fantastic, better than some CCTV recordings, which could be on ancient kit, recording on tapes that had been re-recorded over hundreds of times previously. Yet crystal clear sharp evidence from the victim's point of view is not acceptable.
Because you know cyclists have this special ability, if they wish something really really hard then they can alter video evidence just with the power of their mind.

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 2 years ago
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How can video footage not be independent???

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oozaveared [947 posts] 2 years ago
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methinks that the police have had that standard letter template since Victorian times. They look to see if the box that indicates witnesses has been ticked. If it hasn't they send the standard letter.

The form does not have a box for "helmet camera footage in full HD".

One of the reasons that the police are so seriously narked with the government is that they are the last un-reformed public service in the UK. I have a few friends in the Surrey force and even they think some of it is beyond silly.

I'll give you an example. Way back in the day I was in a nightclub in Bournemouth. A bouncer tried to chat up my girlfriend so we just decided to leave. On my way out of the club I was hit in the back of the head and then kicked while on the floor. I then heard the "leave it Carl" and on rolling over saw it was the fellah that had tried it on with my girlfriend. So I called the police. They eventually came. Spoke to the bouncers, then took me and my girlfriend to the police station and took a statement. Then a week or two later they said they couldn't do anything as they didn't have enough evidence.

Now my current Police friends drawing on their police training tell me that I went about it all wrong. Instead of calling the police to report an assault. I should have stayed down and got someone to call for an ambulance because I was injured after an assault. This approach I am told would have put the reported assault on a higher footing.

This is basically the equivalent of diving in football. So Chi. What you probably should have done is taken a dive (slow down a bit first, fake it if necessary.) but go down. That's how you get witnesses. Now you have a collision, an RTC with injuries and a motorist that fails to stop.

As refs go the police aren't giving any penalties for a manly attempts to stay upright. They are impressed by spectacular dives.

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oozaveared [947 posts] 2 years ago
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jarredscycling wrote:

How can video footage not be independent???

I think it is to do with tampering and all that but theyb take that excuse way too far. All the police video is all calibrated and timed and is tamperproof. So it can be used in evidence. The police are using this standard that they are required to have to discount video evidence not from their own cameras. But they are really inconsistent. It's just an excuse. Video evidence can be presented as evidence. The defence can try to discredit it if they think it's been tampered with or have a problem with it.

This one was pretty easy really. The mopedist could easily have been shown the footage and offered a fixed penalty notice (£100 + 3 Points) for careless driving. (a lower charge than Dangerous driving which is what their actions amounted to) They would just have to take that or risk going to court for a £5000 max and 3-9 points. Or even the cps upping the charge. to DD which is a 12 month ban with a compulsory extended retest but it is quite possible that you will face a prison term or a community penalty if you are convicted.

No court necessary and a big shot across their bows as to their future driving behaviour all for a FPN which they would be wise to bit the officers are off for.

Lazy policing here.

Still as long as they are warning cyclists about High viz and otherwise OK drivers about ASL encroachment I suppose letting go a driver that is actively trying to knock a cyclist off is beyond their resources.

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don simon [790 posts] 2 years ago
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To this end, one has to question why the police are going wear and use video cameras themselves, apart from being in the name of openess......

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jacknorell [974 posts] 2 years ago
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This. Is. F-ing. Disgusting.

The police response seems to be that they can't be bothered to investigate, because they don't think they can win.

AFAIK they're under a legal obligation to investigate a reported crime.

Malfeasance in public office complaint against the officer making this decision?

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Jonny_Trousers [277 posts] 2 years ago
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Sadly, I'm not surprised at all.

I'm pretty ignorant about such matters, but is there nothing we can do beyond declare our disappointment on web forums? Is there someone we can bombard with emails each and every time the care of a cyclist is ignored or trivialised? It would be laughable if it wasn't so bloody depressing.

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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Ooh that's too difficult for the old bill to deal with and not have a definite prosecution. Speeding far easier as they are not having to make a judgement, it's black n white.
Pretty much anything that someone could defend generally doesn't go to court.

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