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Police chief writes to cyclist to explain why he can't investigate crash

Greater Manchester Police's Sir Peter Fahy says cuts mean too few staff to investigate crashes, and protected bike routes needed instead...

Greater Manchester's chief constable, Sir Peter Fahy, has written to a cyclist who was hit by a car to explain police budget cuts mean they won't investigate the collision.

Richard Hearne, who was knocked off his bike when a car pulled out in front of him, wrote to Sir Peter expressing his disappointment that no action was taken following the crash.

In a candid assessment of the challenges of policing roads with strained resources, Sir Peter, who is retiring in October, replied to say he understands cyclists don't feel police give enough attention to road safety but attendance at road traffic collisions won't bring down casualty rates, only decent infrastructure can do that.

In his reply Sir Peter said: "Firstly I am sorry you were involved in such a dangerous incident and GMP very much appreciates that many cyclists feel that poor driving by motorists is not taken seriously enough.

"Just because we did not attend your incident does not mean that we don't care about this or there is no interest in road safety. It is just that the number of priorities we have far exceeds the number of staff available.

"Since 2010 the size of the force has reduced by 1,600 police officers and I lose on average seven more every week. There are no plans to recruit any new ones in the foreseeable future because of continued cuts in funding.

"I know you will say that potential injury on the road is a serous issue and it is but the question then is whether police activity will have an impact.

"There is no evidence that the police attending road accidents has any impact on casualty figures. Speed cameras work because they can be sited at the most dangerous places and increase the chances of being caught.

"The police attending an accident does not affect your chances of being in a morgue. What has most impact on cycle casualties is road design and separate cycle paths and improved lorry design.

"We take complaints very seriously and that is why we have agreed to speak to the driver and why I am writing this at 10.30pm on a Friday night — but this will not change our overall policy or our ability with sharply reducing numbers of staff, to attend all the incidents the public would like us to attend."

Mr Hearne exchanged insurance details with the driver and reported the incident to police, who said they will not take further action.

The 32-year-old told the Bolton News: "I am astonished that the police have said they are not going to investigate this. I could have been seriously injured or killed, but it seems that if you are not injured then they don't take it seriously.

"It has not put me off cycling, it has made me more determined if anything. I have installed a camera and some more safety lights now though."

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