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West Midlands Police say all 16 forces who attended a close pass training day showed a "real keenness" to take on the initiative...

A close pass initiative to protect cyclists could be rolled out by 16 police forces across the UK, covering a population of more than 20 million people, after police from Somerset to Edinburgh attended a training session on Friday.

West Midlands Police devised a simple sting operation last year using a decoy, plain clothed police officer, in a bid to reduce close overtaking and poor driving around cyclists, since which time it has achieved widespread praise, and halved complaints of dangerous overtaking by local cyclists.

The 16 police forces that attended a training and Q&A session near Edgbaston on Friday, covering at least 18 policing areas, were Avon and Somerset, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Humberside, Leicestershire, Merseyside, Norfolk, Surrey, South Yorkshire, Sussex, Warwickshire, West Mercia, and West Yorkshire, and Police Scotland, covering a total population of almost 20 million people.

West Midlands Police to use cycling officer to target close-passing motorists

Following the training session, Hampshire Constabulary, which operates its road policing unit in collaboration with Thames Valley Police, say the scheme will be launched across Hampshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. Meanwhile, traffic police in the East of Scotland today confirmed they will be rolling it out in Edinburgh. Road.cc has contacted all forces that attended, but has not yet had responses from all of them.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson confirmed roll out of the scheme to road.cc: “The ‘Close Pass’ initiative looks excellent and we are making preparations to use it across Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police areas. A launch date is anticipated soon.”

Meanwhile, East of Scotland Police today announced they will pilot their own close pass initiative in Edinburgh in the spring.

Chief Inspector Stephen Innes, Local Area Commander for Road Policing in the East of Scotland, said: "The safety of all road users, including cyclists who we recognise as a vulnerable group, is a priority for Police Scotland and we regularly run operations and initiatives to reduce casualties and educate all drivers, riders and pedestrians.

“We will in the spring be launching a new initiative focusing on the close passing of cyclists and are working with partners to pilot the scheme in Scotland's capital city."

Give Space, be Safe uses a plain clothed officer cycling, who radios ahead if a driver overtakes too close; the driver is then pulled over by colleagues and educated or, in the worst cases, written up for prosecution.

Norfolk, Suffolk, Merseyside, Warwickshire and West Mercia confirmed they are now looking into the scheme, and the potential for using it on their beats. 

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

West Midlands Police’s Steve Hudson, one of two officers who devised the scheme, and ran Friday’s four hour Q&A session, told road.cc all 16 forces were positive about the initiative.

“Everybody that attended there showed a real keenness to take this on. I don’t think they realised how straightforward it was. It’s very rare that we look at a problem in a common sense way and just get on and do it, we usually have to go through so many levels of beaurocracy.”

“We have got a genuine feeling that it’s really going to take off.”

Hudson says the close pass initiative, “Give Space, be Safe” is a rare example of a straightforward policing response to a problem which, he says, has cost West Midlands Police nothing.

Birmingham City Council paid for the mat used to illustrate safe passing distances to drivers, while the Fly bike cameras were donated by Cycliq*, and the work was done in duty time. He believes mats could be purchased for other forces for £800-900.

Road.cc understands West Yorkshire Police, who sent four or five police to the meeting, already ordered their education mat and are planning on introducing the operation, while others are in discussions locally about the initiative.

A spokesperson for Merseyside confirmed its officers had attended the training session and “will look at progressing the initiative in the future.”

“However, full details are not confirmed at present”, the spokesperson said.

West Midlands Police to offer "training package" to other forces looking to run close pass operation

Warwickshire and West Mercia Police told road.cc they are going through the information from the meeting and will brief their chief officers “to see if this is a campaign we can deliver locally”.

The Warwickshire and West Mercia spokesperson added: “I think everyone is in agreement that it’s a great initiative but we’re very much in the information gathering stage at the moment.”

The Norfolk Constabulary press office told road.cc: “I can confirm that we sent officers to WMP to receive a brief on this initiative. It is too early to announce roll-out in Norfolk and Suffolk as we are currently considering all campaigns for the forthcoming year.”

Last year, North Wales Police launched their own close pass operation, called Operation Snap, following observations of what they described as "some awful very close passes and people pulling in and out of junctions, putting cyclists in danger".

North Wales Police latest to launch close pass operation

Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, welcomed the growing interest in the initiative, but said more consistency is needed across the country. 

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Senior Road Safety officer said: “Cycling UK knew West Midlands Police were on to a winner when they rolled out their “Give Space, be Safe” campaign last year, which is why we backed it from the start. It’s a cheap, cost effective initiative that has proved highly effective at changing dangerous driving behaviour.

“It’s great to see so much interest in following West Midlands’ example, but Cycling UK is aware that a number of forces are still not getting their very simple message. We want to see more consistency across all police forces in tackling near misses, as these are not isolated incidents happening only in certain pockets of the country, but everywhere, every day".

Cycling UK told road.cc it is currently looking at how the charity can support a wider roll out of West Midlands Police’s close pass initiative and says it will be contacting all forces over the coming weeks to this end.

The way future close pass initiatives work may change over time, according to Hudson. A number of councils and a fire service attended the training session, and West Midlands are looking to pool resources with the local fire services, who can carry out the “chat on the mat”, to free up police resources to tackle other issues such as speeding and mobile phone use.  West Midlands Police hope advice from fire service staff will elicit a more positive response from drivers.

Hudson was also keen to point out “99 per cent” of drivers he stops are responsible individuals who respond well to education.

Other larger police forces may look to pool resources with their local fire service, as fire services are given increasing responsibility for road safety, and in order to save money.

A handful of forces weren’t able to attend Friday’s event due to bad weather and rail strikes on the day. Of 38 forces contacted by West Midlands Police, inviting them to the meeting, Hudson said “pretty much all of them” got back in touch. He wouldn’t say which didn’t respond, in case emails had gone to the wrong email addresses in those cases.

*This article was amended on 19th January to say Cycliq donated the cameras; it previously said Madison UK donated the cameras. Madison UK has since taken on distribution of Cycliq and is now working with UK close pass operation police forces to provide cameras.

49 comments

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nowasps [519 posts] 10 months ago
15 likes

It would be good to have heard that some Driving Schools head attended this meeting.

New drivers should be taught this stuff and tested on it, before they're let out on the roads.

 

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Username [228 posts] 10 months ago
7 likes
nowasps wrote:

It would be good to have heard that some Driving Schools head attended this meeting.

New drivers should be taught this stuff and tested on it, before they're let out on the roads.

 

 

Excellent idea. The standard of driving I've seen from some instructors (single occupant only, assume it must be the instructor) is quite poor. Instructors need to be informing new drivers about vulnerable road users.

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riotgibbon [231 posts] 10 months ago
3 likes

I've a bunch of crime reports I've made to Thames Valley Police with video of close passes, which they've initially acknowledged, then totally ignored. I wonder if they'll reopen the cold cases!

Going to be interesting. Last time I talked to someone in TVP (who rides a lot themself), they said it was a matter of resources. Wonder what's happened behind the scenes on this, West Midlands must have demonstrated that they've got significant  results for a relatively small outlay ... (eg obsessives with bike cameras providing all the evidence)

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tritecommentbot [2268 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes

Edinburgh? Wow. Did not see that coming. The place is a dive for dodgy drivers. 

 

Pleasantly surprised.

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ChairRDRF [366 posts] 10 months ago
7 likes

I was privileged to speak at the training day (we have given a special award to West Midlands Police for their work - see https://rdrf.org.uk/2016/11/22/a-new-dawn-in-policing-to-prevent-danger-...).

 

I can confirm that those attending showed a lot of interest in the subject on what was a very intensive training day

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Roadie_john [64 posts] 10 months ago
11 likes

For one, I'm gutted my force is t doing this.

for 2, instructors should be made aware and told to cover this.

For 3, any copper will tell you that pulling people over for 'minor' driving offences will usually net rewards in picking up untaxed, uninsured, unsafe motors and criminals who don't feel the need to obey the law. 

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Man of Lard [338 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

Also as they video the close-passers they may detect the driver using a handheld phone or otherwise distracted...

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thx1138 [67 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes

Didn't think I'd see hampshire doing it.  Hopefully it's yeild results although the road policing unit cover a massive area so I'm not optimistic.  

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Morat [280 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

South and West Yorkshire, Humberside but not North Yorkshire. Damnit!

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Username [228 posts] 10 months ago
2 likes
riotgibbon wrote:

Wonder what's happened behind the scenes on this, West Midlands must have demonstrated that they've got significant  results for a relatively small outlay

 

Sergeant Clarke, a keen cyclist who has started doing this same initiative in his own time in his Camden juristriction, tweeted last night that the stops even uncovered a robbery.

https://twitter.com/MPSCamdenTnSgt/status/821718556186472448

 

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beezus fufoon [950 posts] 10 months ago
1 like
Username wrote:

Sergeant Clarke, a keen cyclist who has started doing this same initiative in his own time in his Camden juristriction, tweeted last night that the stops even uncovered a robbery.

https://twitter.com/MPSCamdenTnSgt/status/821718556186472448

 

was it someone charging £800-900 for a medium sized piece of tarpaulin?!

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WillRod [250 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

Good to see it being rolled out nationally county by county.

I'm moving from Suffolk to Cambridgeshire soon, but ironically one of the cycling capitals of the UK doesn't seem interested? Looks like I will keep returning to Suffolk for enjoyable bike rides!

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huntswheelers [105 posts] 10 months ago
1 like
WillRod wrote:

Good to see it being rolled out nationally county by county.

I'm moving from Suffolk to Cambridgeshire soon, but ironically one of the cycling capitals of the UK doesn't seem interested? Looks like I will keep returning to Suffolk for enjoyable bike rides!

 

Cambridgeshire are great at Bull5hitting on being the County of Cycling..... total crap...it's all Cambridge Centric and the rest of the county gets nowt....  I'm pushing for more Close Pass enforcement & the local Plod in Huntingdon latest initiatives....are Illegal & Bad Parking, Cycling Safety and Bad Driving.... I live in hope

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Rapha Nadal [660 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

Well, Sussex is in there so let's hope the idiotic driving reduces in Brighton & the surrounding areas!

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Cantab [102 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
huntswheelers wrote:
WillRod wrote:

Good to see it being rolled out nationally county by county.

I'm moving from Suffolk to Cambridgeshire soon, but ironically one of the cycling capitals of the UK doesn't seem interested? Looks like I will keep returning to Suffolk for enjoyable bike rides!

 

Cambridgeshire are great at Bull5hitting on being the County of Cycling..... total crap...it's all Cambridge Centric and the rest of the county gets nowt....  I'm pushing for more Close Pass enforcement & the local Plod in Huntingdon latest initiatives....are Illegal & Bad Parking, Cycling Safety and Bad Driving.... I live in hope

Cambridge is the enlightened cycling island because the countryside around us is filled with parochial close-pass merchants. Which is also why we aren't getting a close pass initiative because those same hicks keep electing Tory PCCs who only care to satisfy the Daily Hate brigade by targeting 'cycling safety' in the form of driving cyclists off the road (almost literally in the case of some pandas).

Good luck with Huntingdon's law, I've tried to raise issues with Cambridge City constabulary without ever receiving a response.

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steviemarco [236 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

North Yorkshire and Cleveland Constabulary..... There are lots of cyclists on your roads too, get with the program!

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Schweiz [35 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

#get safe on road

#road.cc team

#cycleing knowlege

#ROADS BELONG TO PEOPLE

#make progress stay live

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armb [128 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
Cantab wrote:

Cambridge is the enlightened cycling island because the countryside around us is filled with parochial close-pass merchants. Which is also why we aren't getting a close pass initiative because those same hicks keep electing Tory PCCs who only care to satisfy the Daily Hate brigade by targeting 'cycling safety' in the form of driving cyclists off the road (almost literally in the case of some pandas).

Cambridge city police and council aren't much better than the county though. Cambridge has a lot of students who aren't allowed to keep cars in the city, and a lot of former students who stayed when they got jobs locally who realise cycling is the best way to get about the city, especially the medieval street layout of the centre, so cycling is seen as normal and most drivers are used to sharing the road with cyclists. (And it's fairly flat, and has relatvely low rainfall.)

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fatsmoker [28 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

I've just seen a rozzer on a bike without any lights on. 08.17am, and it is still pretty dark and grim out there. 

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kil0ran [594 posts] 10 months ago
6 likes
Username wrote:
nowasps wrote:

It would be good to have heard that some Driving Schools head attended this meeting.

New drivers should be taught this stuff and tested on it, before they're let out on the roads.

 

 

Excellent idea. The standard of driving I've seen from some instructors (single occupant only, assume it must be the instructor) is quite poor. Instructors need to be informing new drivers about vulnerable road users.

Got close passed by a local driving instructor recently. Rural road, blind bend. oncoming traffic, 30mph+

Apparantly my fault for being in Primary (because oncoming traffic & blind bend funnily enough) - I was tapping along around 22mph according to my ride data so hardly holding him up.

When we discussed he had no idea what the HC said about safe passing distances and vulnerable road users. Said it was all my fault for being too far out in the road. If the oncoming traffic hadn't slowed to let him through there would have been a head-on (or more likely he'd have swerved and killed me)

Sort of incident that makes me want to run a camera but I hate the idea of having two more bloody things to remember to charge.

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brooksby [2693 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
ChairRDRF wrote:

I was privileged to speak at the training day ...

I can confirm that those attending showed a lot of interest in the subject on what was a very intensive training day

That's good to hear.  But there's a world of difference between "showing a lot of interest" and "actually implementing the initiative", I suspect...

I live and work in Avon & Somerset's bailiwick, and I really can't see them doing it, I'm afraid.

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brooksby [2693 posts] 10 months ago
1 like
Schweiz wrote:

#get safe on road

#road.cc team

#cycleing knowlege

#ROADS BELONG TO PEOPLE

#make progress stay live

Erm - what?

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kil0ran [594 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
fatsmoker wrote:

I've just seen a rozzer on a bike without any lights on. 08.17am, and it is still pretty dark and grim out there. 

Probably legal depending on where you are in the country. Sunrise was around 8am this morning.

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jollygoodvelo [1680 posts] 10 months ago
1 like

I note that Essex Pol weren't listed.  Not that I'm surprised exactly.  Anyone got any ideas how to push them on this?  

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RobD [539 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes
jollygoodvelo wrote:

I note that Essex Pol weren't listed.  Not that I'm surprised exactly.  Anyone got any ideas how to push them on this?  

 

Doesn't surprise me either, definitely seems worse here than other places I've ridden, then again, the general drop off of simple things like indicating or using the correct lanes for roundabouts seems to have gotten much worse in the past couple of years around here.

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KendalRed [103 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

Slightly disappointed but not really surprised Cumbria Constabulary not involved. Knowing a few 'insiders' though various avenues, the budgets are constantly being butchered, and the geography of the county must make this type of thing quite difficult to pull together. I also think that we have perhaps slightly less of a problem than some other parts of the country - but that's not saying we don't have a problem.

I suspect as this project is rolled out to more and more areas, the pressure to join in will increase, and it's up to us to apply that pressure (local press, writing to MP's etc).

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Username [228 posts] 10 months ago
3 likes
kil0ran wrote:

When we discussed he had no idea what the HC said about safe passing distances and vulnerable road users. Said it was all my fault for being too far out in the road.

 

This is the crux of the problem. If this is the standard of tuitition the new drivers are receiving then we are fooked.

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CXR94Di2 [1856 posts] 10 months ago
1 like
nowasps wrote:

It would be good to have heard that some Driving Schools head attended this meeting.

New drivers should be taught this stuff and tested on it, before they're let out on the roads.

 

 

I taught my daugther to drive and drummed it into her that you always slow down and give a wide berth to cyclists and other slow users of roads.  The test examiner down marked 1 point for being too cautious around cyclists!!  She passed though

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SvenAB [4 posts] 10 months ago
0 likes

Disappointed, but not surprised, to see that Northumbria weren't involved. Shame.

My commuting experiences this winter have made me search the interweb for cycling cameras, but I'm not sure if the local constabulary would even be interested. I had made a resolution to try and be more polite and relaxed about the whole thing, but it's difficult when something seems to happen every single day.

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OldRidgeback [2826 posts] 10 months ago
3 likes

I hope the Met here in London also take up this initiative.

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