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.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.