A driver who assaulted a cyclist during a road rage incident will not be charged with an offence by West Midlands Police due to Home Office guidelines – despite the episode being caught on video and bearing strong similarities to one in south east London in 2011 which resulted in charges being brought and a conviction secured after footage was posted to road.cc.
Helmet-cam footage of the latest incident was posted to YouTube by the victim under the user name BlackCountryBikeCam, but was subsequently taken down, possibly as a result of a complaint from the van driver involved, reports BikeBiz. However, the video was mirrored by other users, who have reposted it.
The white van involved, registration number FP07KJN, can first be seen around 10 seconds in, pulling out of a yard, with the rider moving past it on the inside then ahead of it to get around a car that is being parked, although the queue of traffic ahead means that that manoeuvre would not have held up the van.
The rider, who is also on Twitter under the user name CCStev, said that he showed the footage to police, but they told him that Home Office rules meant they were unable to press charges, because the driver, after being made aware of the video, admitted his guilt, and had no previous convictions.
While the police insist their hands are tied, the cyclist is said to have been unhappy with the alternative provided – that he seek a “local resolution” with the motorist, although it is a course of action he has reluctantly accepted.
The van is operated by a Birmingham-based pet business, Weird and Wonderful of Birmingham, which has deleted its Facebook and Twitter accounts as a result of the complaints it was receiving from cyclists, as well as disabling the online feedback form on its website. An email from BikeBiz has gone unanswered.
According to CCStev, “The driver was not charged. He was brought in for interview and initially claimed provocation, that I kicked his van and kicked him in the chest.
“He changed his story when told there was video evidence. He still claimed I kicked him and the van and only after the officer pointed out that she couldn't see any of that, on his solicitor's advice he finally accepted full responsibility.
"Because he had no police record and admitted to the offence, under the ridiculous scoring system imposed on the police he was eligible for a caution.
“As the victim I was given the choice of the driver receiving a caution or I could accept a local resolution, the terms of which that I would receive an amount in compensation and a written apology. I'm far from happy about it but reluctantly accepted the resolution.
“I don't think the police are to blame but the decisions made by Government departments that govern them.
“This was a violent, unprovoked attack that has no place in society and I'm very disappointed and angry that the driver will not face criminal consequences."
In February, national cyclists’ organisation CTC launched a campaign urging cyclists to write to their local Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) asking them to make road safety a priority in their policing plans.
However, as this incident shows, Home Office red tape can mean that the hands of the police are tied.
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.