Of the 3,898 allegations of driving offences, including close passes, using a mobile phone or careless driving, submitted in the last 15 months until March, only 10 resulted in a prosecution, an FOI request has revealed.
According to the latest data published by Surrey Police which uses a third-party reporting service to collect video footage evidence, at the time of the publishing of data, over 3,000 cases had achieved an outcome, and more than half of the offences were resolved with a warning letter.
These included 938 instances of close pass submissions, with only three resulting in a prosecution, four in a penalty notice and four being offered a driver improvement course. In contrast, 742 cases, almost 80 per cent of the total, were resolved with a warning letter.
The news comes a month after we reported that another FOI request had revealed that out of the 286 submissions to West Midlands Police, the force which pioneered ‘close pass’, resulted in just one prosecution, with 213 reports of careless or dangerous driving around cyclists last year resulting in no further action being taken.
Similarly, in Surrey, almost half the reports resulted in no further action. An active travel Twitter account from Surrey compiled the data and wrote: “Like many other members of the public, especially vulnerable road users, I started recording my journeys after a few incidents where I was put in danger by people driving aggressively and carelessly, which left me in fear for my safety, and that of my family.
“I’m grateful that Surrey Police provides a third party reporting service; knowing that my local force “has my back” and that there will be consequences for dangerous driving behaviour on Surrey’s roads gives me more confidence when travelling.
“But it goes further than this. If motorists (who are responsible for the vast majority of Road Danger) realise it’s more likely there will be meaningful consequence for dangerous behaviour, Surrey’s roads will become safer for everyone. And reduce demand on many public services.”
Of the cases which have so far resulted in an outcome, 1,245 were related to “driving without due care”, one of the “fatal five” offences when driving. Of these, only 514 resulted in further action being taken by the force, with 459 cases in which a warning letter was sent, and 55 resulting in a driving improvement course, or more.
In a comparable manner, of the 318 cases of using a mobile phone or not being in proper control of your car — another one of the fatal five offences, led to 178 warning letters and seven penalty notices.
@SurreyPolice has recently released data relating to its online #3rdPartyReporting service, which show that 3,898 allegations of driving offences were submitted in the c.15 months to March 2023. Thank you to @TGonthebike, who made the FOI request.
In this thread, I take a look… pic.twitter.com/WAdVl4Oyzu
— Cycling Surrey 🇺🇦 (@CyclingSurrey) May 12, 2023
With West Midlands Police first, and now Surrey Police choosing to not proceed with almost half of the total allegations submitted for poor driving, cyclists who spot such instances, or worse, experience them at the risk of personal injury or worse could be discouraged from reaching out to the force and looking for proper action.
Richard Broughton, a cyclist from Farnborough near Surrey said: “It is hardly surprising that I have seen driving standards decrease around here when the police are letting these bad drivers off with warnings or less. The data its very discouraging.”
Another cyclist from Surrey wrote on Twitter: It’s great that Surrey Police have online reporting but it’s a complete waste of resources if they are only going to send out slap on the wrist warning letters to drivers.”
In fact, a cyclist from Birmingham, who experienced a near-miss earlier this month told road.cc: “Previously I've submitted footage to them that have resulted in me having to go to court appearances, so I've always spoken positively about the police. But recently, I sent in a few submissions and didn't hear back from them. That's when I was getting a bit suspicious and then I saw the Freedom of Information report.”
And in February, one Coventry-based cyclist claimed that a motorist – who committed an extreme close pass on him before slamming on his brakes and appearing to deliberately reverse into the rider – escaped punishment because an officer from the force’s Traffic Investigation Unit deemed that the collision was not captured clearly enough in the video.
road.cc reader James said that he had originally submitted the clip to WMP’s ‘Non-Stop Self Reporting Collision Form’. After receiving no response for several months, he later contacted the force’s Traffic Investigation Unit, who asked him to resubmit the footage.
However, while James claimed that an officer informed him that there was no “clear video” of the collision, West Midlands Police told road.cc that the driver was not prosecuted simply because the two-week window for issuing a Notice of Intended Prosecution had expired by that point, and that the cyclist was invited to “pursue an allegation of assault”.
Even Surrey Police’s data reveals that in more than 1,000 cases, no further action was taken because there was insufficient evidence.
Cycling Surrey, the account which analysed the data, said: "My ask is that that Chief Constable Tim De Meyer takes his recent appointment as an opportunity to properly review current investment in third-party reporting, consults with road safety experts, and considers its potential benefits to Surrey Police in the widest possible context.”
road.cc has reached out to Surrey Police for a comment.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after completing his masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He also covers local and national politics for Voice Wales, and sometimes writes about science, tech and the environment. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him riding his bike on the scenic routes, fighting his urge to stop pedalling and click photographs (apparently not because he's bonking).