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Camden police to use section 59 legislation which means helmet cam footage could be used to help remove worst drivers from the road

Police in North London have started using legislation which means drivers caught passing too close to cyclists twice in one year could have their car confiscated and crushed.

Last night Camden police, who have already replicated West Midlands Police's (WMP) award-winning close pass initiative, armed themselves with Section 59 forms, a piece of legislation under the Police Reform Act 2002, which allows police to seize vehicles being used in an antisocial manner.

At a House of Lords event on Tuesday celebrating WMP's successful close pass operation Gareth Walker, of Greater Manchester Police, suggested the legislation as another way to tackle bad driving. Questions were raised over why the Metropolitan Police aren't yet running a similar operation across the force as a whole, which polices 32 boroughs in the capital.

Camden police to copy West Midlands close-pass initiative

Sergeant Nick Clarke, for Camden Town and Primrose Hill Ward, who already adopted the close pass initiative on his beat, told road.cc: “He happened to mention it and everyone’s brains went: ‘do you know what, we haven’t thought of that!’.”

He said the legislation was originally intended for “boy racers screeching around McDonald’s car parks being idiots” but could be applied to any driving “causing or likely to cause alarm, distress or annoyance to the public”.

Sgt Clarke said the response to his updates regarding close passing drivers on Twitter support the notion it causes distress and alarm to cyclists. He said: “The tweets, and retweets I have had; I can stand up in court and say I’m repeatedly told this is why people don’t get on a bike – that this is causing alarm and distress to other people."

He said his officers will use a “graduated response” and only use them at first on the worst cases of bad driving, such as “punishment passes”.

West Midlands Police: If poor driving makes people too scared to cycle, it's a police matter

“We don’t just come in with a sledgehammer, said Sgt Clarke, so just like the start of the close pass stuff we initially didn’t do any reporting, we were just explaining why we are doing this stuff, saying: ‘you could kill someone’.

“Then we said: right, let’s start looking at people digging their heels in, and now we are at the point where we are reporting everyone.”

He said the same process will apply for s59 reports – only the worst cases will be reported during the initial education phase.

“When I hear the engine rev behind and the person perhaps cuts me up I pull him or her over and they will be reported and will get a section 59 saying: if you do this again in your vehicle or anyone else’s that vehicle will get crushed,” said Sgt Clarke.

After the initial warning from officers, Clarke said video evidence from a third party would be sufficient to take that driver to court under section 59.

Clarke has run the operation five times in the last month or so with no additional budget. Clarke sends officers out on the roads for a couple of hours in the morning rush hour when most criminals aren't operating. The Camden initiative involves a plain clothes officer on a bike and several others at key points around a figure of eight loop. Officers target mobile phone driving as well as those who pass too close to the cyclist. Clarke says writing up evidence for driving misdemeanours also provides good training for newer officers.

Questions were raised on Tuesday as to why the Metropolitan Police aren’t following West Midlands’ Police lead and running the close pass initiative in London. The Sergeant Simon Castle, from the Met's Cycle Safety Team, said they had trialled the scheme but with slow traffic speeds in London the cyclists were overtaking traffic, rather than the other way round.

Clarke, however, feels the operation is replicable by other ward sergeants, and that it can have wide-reaching effects on driver behaviour across London.

He said: “It can be replicated in London, it’s just the locations that you choose.”

He said while High Holborn, for example, has a high KSI rate (killed or seriously injured) it isn’t possible to run a close pass operation there. However, by targeting drivers on major roads into High Holborn those drivers will still be looking out for cyclists when they reach dangerous junctions.

“They get to the point where there’s someone on a Boris Bike on High Holborn who’s at risk of collision; by targeting them three or four miles up the road you’re reducing the risk of that happening.”

He added: “The Think! campaign has a limited impact; people watching it aren’t the target audience. The fact you may have your car crushed is a powerful motivator for people to drive safely.”

 

40 comments

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Ramuz [263 posts] 7 months ago
19 likes

Wholehearted applause. I would consider taking my human capital and disposable income to the borough of Camden. Areas under police forces that do not care will lose out.

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Cantab [102 posts] 7 months ago
15 likes

Another top police officer!

Can only hope that these initiatives spread far and wide across the land - if the KSI figures improve in these districts then maybe even the stuck-in-the-past forces will sit up and take notice.

Actually, forget "hope", lets make them - would be good to see Cyclists UK and British Cycling targetting PCCs, mobilising cyclists and their families as a formidable voting block in these low turnout elections currently dominated by the "lock 'em up" brigade.

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Plasterer's Radio [293 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

Believe it when I see it, but I hope I'm wrong.

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StuInNorway [121 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes

How big a crusher do they have ? Will they get a Boris Bus in it ???

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ChrisB200SX [357 posts] 7 months ago
6 likes

Um, we need to stop them from driving, crushing their car may not achieve this. It's also extremely wasteful, what did the poor little car ever do? Punish the driver, not the car. I have nothing against confiscating their cars though.

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CygnusX1 [449 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes

Great idea from Gareth Walker of @gmptraffic and chapeau to Sgt Clarke for implementing it in Camden. Now I want know if the same initiative will be implemented here in the GMP force area. May have to track down officer Walker .

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balmybaldwin [188 posts] 7 months ago
18 likes

There appears to be a very severe case of common sense going round in the police at the moment.

Personally I think the cars shouldn't be crushed, but instead auctioned by the police to raise funds ring-fenced to patrol the roads, but if it works as a deterrent then great

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unconstituted [2355 posts] 7 months ago
10 likes

Auctioned off would be better, but then the police would face claims of racketeering. This way it just looks like a punishment.

 

Definitely more practical to auction off the cars and drug hauls though. Okay maybe just the cars.

 

And the drugs.

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Yorkshire wallet [1075 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes

Crush the driver?

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handlebarcam [938 posts] 7 months ago
18 likes

Now this could really work. Threaten sociopathic drivers with a three-hour safe driving course and they'll laugh in your face. But the kind of people who go ape-shit if you give their vehicle a light tap to let them know you are there will think twice if their pride and joy could be crushed into a cube roughly the size of their enlarged prostates.

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gunswick [96 posts] 7 months ago
7 likes

Legend status for WMP and Camden police, great idea!

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LarryDavidJr [347 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes

Very un-environmental.  And as someone else pointed out, they'll just get another car, probably a shit heap thats even more dangerous to be on the road.  Give the power for quick-turnaround short term bans (i.e. bans up to three months enforcable within a week) and that will make people think a bit more.  It would also be more even-handed as people who lose a 25k car are getting hit harder than someone with a £200 banger.

10/10 for effort, but not the best idea in the long haul I think.

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bikebot [2120 posts] 7 months ago
10 likes

Fairly sure "crushed" is just to shock. They have the authority to do that, but I think most forces eventually get rid of them at auction.

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Bluebug [68 posts] 7 months ago
5 likes
bikebot wrote:

Fairly sure "crushed" is just to shock. They have the authority to do that, but I think most forces eventually get rid of them at auction.

Loads of cars driven in London aren't worth that.

On another note what are they going to do to  van, coach and HGV drivers who do close passes?

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mrchrispy [488 posts] 7 months ago
5 likes
CygnusX1 wrote:

Great idea from Gareth Walker of @gmptraffic and chapeau to Sgt Clarke for implementing it in Camden. Now I want know if the same initiative will be implemented here in the GMP force area. May have to track down officer Walker .

I'd back you on that, the more public support they get the easier it is to justify with the desk jockeys with pips

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kraut [138 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

Confiscate the car and auction it off. 

Rinse, repeat.

 

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kraut [138 posts] 7 months ago
5 likes
Bluebug wrote:

Loads of cars driven in London aren't worth that.

On the other hand, ots of cars driven (badly) in London would buy you a decent house elsewhere in the country.

I'm sure I saw a tweet about a Lamborghini being confiscated in London for lack of insurance and license earlier today. Crushing that would be awful - and fiscally irresponsible.

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kraut [138 posts] 7 months ago
7 likes
LarryDavidJr wrote:

Very un-environmental.  And as someone else pointed out, they'll just get another car, probably a shit heap thats even more dangerous to be on the road.  Give the power for quick-turnaround short term bans (i.e. bans up to three months enforcable within a week) and that will make people think a bit more.  It would also be more even-handed as people who lose a 25k car are getting hit harder than someone with a £200 banger.

10/10 for effort, but not the best idea in the long haul I think.

You certainly have a point, and it's not going to be a panacea. But nor are bans; I'm sick and tired of reading about drivers who get caught driving while disqualified and get...yes, disqualified  from driving.

So you have to hit them in the pocket.

 

Personally, I'm just glad to see a second police force even trying to take action against dangerous driving. Doubly so since I frequently cycle in that area.

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frogg [87 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes

Hi, didn't see a comment about the very close pass from a Team Sky bus on the Tour of Britain i think. Would love to see crashing a bus ...

i have it http://road.cc/content/news/204005-video-team-sky-bus-driver-makes-extre...

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Morat [258 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes

Daily Mail ragegasm in 3..2..1...

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A V Lowe [608 posts] 7 months ago
5 likes

High KSI in Holborn more likely due to seriously bad road layouts and levels of use.  Examples include Aldwych and Vernon Place many flows with large vehicles  making conflicting movements (R1 buses into Convent Garden ; Small number - high kill rate - trucks & coaches turning left from Vernon Place). More radical action to take lessons from KSI investigations and apply them, eg ban left turns where these have caused multiple deaths at same location - clearly a hazard that must be eliminated or better managed.

Laura you clearly picked up a lot from being there - wave the flag for the retractable lifeguards that are now being used on some Keltbray trucks, and the pressing need to get the development of these units for the front of the truck - where at least 80% of the fatally injured cyclists in London go down and under the wheels. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKpbSN3b_xU

Once your head or torso goes under just one 10T axle you are 100% dead, even the trauma of a limb crushed this way has a high chance of proving fatal.

The permitted clearance cab-road for a NORMAL clas N3 truck is 40cm - for an off-road truck (with the concession to run on road) there is no limit.  However most trucks can travel around with as little as 25cm cab-road gap - which is almost impossible to slide under if you can put up a fight.

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Man of Lard [331 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes

Be ok if they crushed the vehicle with the errant driver inside it prevents repetitive faults...

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davel [1242 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes
A V Lowe wrote:

High KSI in Holborn more likely due to seriously bad road layouts and levels of use.  Examples include Aldwych and Vernon Place many flows with large vehicles  making conflicting movements (R1 buses into Convent Garden ; Small number - high kill rate - trucks & coaches turning left from Vernon Place). More radical action to take lessons from KSI investigations and apply them, eg ban left turns where these have caused multiple deaths at same location - clearly a hazard that must be eliminated or better managed.

Absolutely - there still needs to be the sensible stuff that doesn't grab the headlines.

But there needs to be a cultural shift along the lines of the message that Camden and WMP are making. It is unacceptable to not give vulnerable road users more consideration/room etc; helmet footage will be taken seriously; the police aren't just ignoring silly, militant cyclists.

For way too long, the narrative has been of entitled lycra louts, cyclists causing congestion, RLJing and bombing along pavements. It's a smokescreen. Established journalists and trollumnists have built this into a crescendo and columns calling for the removal of progressive infrastructure and wishing harm on cyclists are becoming part of the mainstream.

The rabble aren't listening to guardian columnists who ride bikes, Jeremy Vine, City Hall (they know the superhighways cause congestion because they see a superhighway next to congestion), or even The Times.

So how do we win the argument? Evidence and rational argument is having limited success. We can't reach cyclist critical mass ('safety in numbers') while the majority who would cycle are too nervous to ride on roads. Decent separate infrastructure has to overcome the same old dogma each time a route is proposed. We'll win zero arguments with Joe Driver by citing Copenhagen or 'post-truth Britain', no matter their veracity.

So when the police make straightforward, objective comments such as these, not about a brave new world, but about doing what is possible now, to clamp down on driving that is illegal and contrary to the Highway Code, they should be applauded and encouraged.

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Daveyraveygravey [514 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

Great idea and I am all for it.  I am also all for bringing this to the attention of as many people as possible so that the average driver stops seeing a cyclist as an obstruction/road furniture/delay, and starts driving with a little care and consideration.

My wife doesn't drive yet when we are in the car and I am taking time to pass a bike safely, she will quite often start ranting about "bloody cyclists causing delays".  FFS!

On the negative side, what chance is there of this actually being enforced?  Wasn't there a case last week of a driver who had been caught texting at the wheel 8 times who had talked the judge into letting him off a ban?

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FluffyKittenofT... [1582 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

So they are going to let the miscreant drivers get out of their vehicle before it's crushed?
Bleeding heart liberals!

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earth [344 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

What does the law say about people wearing hoods while driving?  Had a driver coming out of a side road today wearing a hoodie in the car with the hood up.  I could not see his eyes as he was coming out of the side road so his peripheral vision was restricted to the point of tunnel vision.

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racyrich [281 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Strange that the police regard Section 59 as a sledgehammer.  From previous articles I've read about it it seemed to be the soft option, used when there was no independent evidence that would facilitate a careless/dangerous driving charge.  

No wonder that those previous articles advised that you should insist the police register the offending car under Section 59 - they clearly don't know enough about it.

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pruaga [164 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

I'm a bit sceptical that this is anything more than a PR thing to raise the profile and make people think.  

I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, but it seems like when they doubled the penalty for mobile use and didn't do anything to increase enforcement.  No point having a punishment on the books if it isn't used.  I hope my cynicism is misplaced.

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P3t3 [383 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

It a nice approach, and I personally welcome drivers taking more care.  

 

But we need to view with caution the idea that this is going to enable more people to cycle.  The public's perception of subjective safety of the roads is not going to be changed by a few fines and crushed cars.  This might change the minds of the hardened 0.1% of the population that were already tempted to cycle, but for most of the population, forget it.  

 

I hope that the police forces involved are hard enough in their resolve to stand firm when the inevitable backlash comes against them afer they have a few cars crushed.  

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Rapha Nadal [494 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Does this mean that we all need to start wearing cameras to catch these naughty motorists?  I see no other way of proving a punishment pass and the like has taken place?  Not sure a simple "my word aginst his/hers" would hold much ground!

Still, great idea which I hope works and makes other police departments take note.

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