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Police’s “road safety culture” questioned as motorist escapes punishment for allegedly abusing and swerving at female cyclist

Lancashire Police say the cyclist’s report was mistakenly closed, with the subsequent delay “causing difficulties” in investigating the “fast and terrifying incident”

Lancashire Police’s attitude towards vulnerable road users has been called into question following an alleged incident involving a passing motorist who verbally abused and repeatedly swerved his vehicle at a female cyclist – and which, due to an error made by police staff at the time the incident was reported, saw the driver escape punishment for actions described by the cyclist’s husband as “beyond abusive”.

However, a member of the force’s Immediate Response team has said that the “frustrating” failure to identify and prosecute the driver for the “fast and terrifying incident” was simply down to the delay in opening the investigation caused by a control room operator mistakenly closing the cyclist’s initial report, and that the police are nevertheless able to pursue the motorist for driving a vehicle with an expired MOT.

The alleged incident, which was not captured on camera, took place on 3 September as cyclists Paul and Natalie Bennett were riding through Foulridge, a village in Pendle, Lancashire, when Paul dropped back due to a mechanical issue. As he was riding back up to his wife, the driver of a BMW X3 passed the two cyclists.

“The road in that location is both fast and wide and it’s very unlikely a passing motorist would even be slightly inconvenienced by the presence of a cyclist – not that this would be a valid excuse,” Mr Bennett said.

“Yet the driver pulled alongside my wife and leaned over the passenger seat of his car and began verbally abusing her for being a cyclist. Once he’d finished doing so, he then used his vehicle to swerve at her, forcing her towards the kerb, multiple times.

“My opinion is that this is not simply a public order offence, but under CPS guidelines would constitute assault with a vehicle.”

A56, Foulridge, Pendle (Google Street View)

“A culture where scrutiny isn’t welcome”

Following the alleged assault, Mr Bennett took a note of the driver’s number plate – which he used to verify that the vehicle in question had a lapsed and invalid MOT (“which is still true today,” he says) – before reporting the incident to the police.

A few weeks later, “after hearing nothing from the police for some time”, Mr Bennett requested an update from North Yorkshire Police, who informed him that the matter had been passed to Lancashire Police.

When no update duly arrived, Mr Bennett then contacted Lancashire Police on 16 October – a month and a half after the incident – to complain about the lengthy delay. A day later, the police took a statement from Mr Bennett both over the phone and in person at his home, while also scheduling to speak to his wife.

“At this point I’ll state that I feel that more effort has been employed by Lancashire Police in preventing escalation of the complaint than had been undertaken to that point in actually doing anything about the incident,” Bennett said.

Finally, on 8 November, Mrs Bennett received a call from an officer who had previously visited their home who, according to Paul, “stated that the police were unable to act further in relation to the driver/registered keeper as the details in the statement were vague”.

> Councillor slams cyclists riding “at breakneck speed” on pavement, as police officers increase patrols targeting people on bikes during road closures

“Considering the dates involved between the incident and Lancs Police taking a statement, this is hardly surprising and is a direct result of failing to take timely action,” the cyclist said.

“Likewise, as explained to the officer during his time in my home, the incident occurred next to two premises that would almost certainly have CCTV footage of the road – Dales Motors and the neighbouring petrol station – yet it would be unlikely that over 28 days after the incident footage would still be available, though timings could be provided to-the-minute based on GPS tracking of the ride.”

He continued: “My wife feels more strongly about these events and feels she’s been purposefully put in a position whereby her statement compromises the initial information provided to the police to justify no action.

“All updates were requested in a written format, yet that hasn’t been provided with Lancs Police seemingly preferring phone conversations. I think this itself is problematic and suggests a culture where scrutiny isn’t welcome.”

“Zero confidence”

Earlier this month, Mr Bennett complained about the force’s handling of the case to the office of Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, who stated that it is “unable” to deal with the matter “in the first instance”.

“The PCC’s office seem to be unwilling to ask why the incident was simply closed, why the original prompt for a reply was entirely ignored and why, given the nature of the incident, the police are treating it as a public order offence given the actions of the driver were beyond just being abusive,” he said.

> Driver escapes punishment for alleged hit-and-run on cyclist, as victim blasts police inaction and “barriers to justice”

The cyclist also criticised Lancashire Police for previous road safety incidents in which he believes the force “failed entirely to respond appropriately”, and called into question the force’s attitude in general towards incidents involving drivers and vulnerable road users.

One of these incidents saw an “impatient driver” allegedly threaten the cyclist with violence following a close pass on a 20 percent gradient, while another involved a young motorist “overtaking me at speed, entering a 90-degree blind, single track bend and encountering an oncoming pickup truck”.

“The driver then swerved back across me, narrowly missing my front wheel, finally coming to a stop in a nearby tree,” Mr Bennett said. “As there were no injuries, and despite the aggravating circumstances, the police did not attend. They would have attended if branches from the tree were in the road.”

“To this end, I have zero confidence that Lancs Police act appropriately where vulnerable road users are concerned and would ask that the person responsible within Lancashire Police is now asked some incredibly difficult questions as to the culture they preside over and whether it’s appropriate for them to continue in that role,” Mr Bennett continued.

“My dad, who was a traffic policeman prior to retirement, rides throughout the Ribble Valley, as does my wife and my best mate,” he told Lancashire Police. “I simply do not want to write to you again when something serious happens to one of them – as feels almost inevitable – or have them write to you, when something happens to me.”

Delay causes “frustration”

In response to Mr Bennett’s complaints, Sergeant Paula Cullen from Pendle’s Immediate Response team said: “Whilst I cannot begin to answer specific questions to the wider complaints relating Mr Bennett’s historic encounters with Lancashire Police, I am able to provide some reply to the incident on 3 September.

“The initial call was made to North Yorkshire Police who transferred the details to Lancashire control room immediately. Unfortunately, when this was done, the control room operator closed that report, it was never passed to an officer for deployment and the crime was not identified. This remained the case until Mr Bennett emailed in on 16 October which was over a month after the incident.

“At that point the control room identified that an error had been made in the closure of the incident and re-opened the report requesting deployment and raising a crime report of a public order offence.”

She continued: “Clearly the time delay in action has caused difficulties in the investigation, not only in the quality of evidence which we have able to gather given that recollections will naturally fade in detail over time but also in the availability of what we would term ‘golden hour’ tasks which are often key in the success of investigations.

“As Mr Bennett quite rightly suggests, CCTV opportunities have been lost as well as the opportunity to explore independent witness opportunities at the time of the incident.

“Whilst we have the registration of the vehicle involved in the incident, we do not know who was driving the vehicle at the time. Understandably the description provided by Mrs Bennett is not sufficient for identification purpose given the delay in us obtaining that statement and her recollections in what must have been a fast and terrifying incident.”

> CCTV footage shows horrific crash as cyclist sent flying by driver overtaking at traffic lights

Sergeant Cullen also noted that while there are “other avenues” available to identify the motorist, such as issuing a request to the registered keeper of the vehicle as part of a notice of intended prosecution for road traffic offences.

“However, this must be done within 14 days of the offence for it to be legally made,” Sergeant Cullen said. “In addition, this is only an avenue if we were looking at road traffic offences. As we were hoping to progress a criminal offence this method of lawfully identifying the driver is not one open to us.

“Once again it is the delay in beginning this investigation which has caused the frustrations in it progress.

“The final point which is raised is in regards to the lapsed MOT on the offending vehicle. This is a matter that has been dealt with, and although it does not relate to a victim-based offence it is the only point of we have been able to lawfully progress against the owner of the vehicle.”

In a statement to road.cc, Lancashire Police also advised any cyclist who has witnessed or been a victim of dangerous driving to submit video or photographic evidence to the force’s Operation Snap road safety portal.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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52 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 3 months ago
3 likes

A Festive Find on the High Street: the Garstang area No MOT/ Insurance/ VED Reigning Champion. This is only the second time I have seen anything in the load area- looks like his groundworks business has some jobs on

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grumpyoldcyclist replied to wtjs | 3 months ago
0 likes

How about if everyone that reads this ALL put in a report to Lancs police about this vehicle using this image? Could Lancs police lie to everyone?

I'm no Sherlock but Google can find entries about the company and there's even photo's of the people, so no idea why the police have an issue.

Just a thought

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wtjs replied to grumpyoldcyclist | 3 months ago
0 likes

Could Lancs police lie to everyone?

They don't have to lie- they just do nothing. You can complain to the police about the police: obviously useless, and I've done it. The PCC simply says 'deciding to do nothing about MOT/ insurance/ VED evasion is an operational decision of the police so we cannot interfere'. You can write to your MP, he just says: complain to the police about the police. I moved from close-passing to indisputable offences like evasions and RLJs, but they initially say 'we're so busy' and then cease responding at all. You must appreciate, I did all these things years ago- this is a monumentally bad police force which is encouraged to continue that way. 

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wtjs replied to grumpyoldcyclist | 3 months ago
1 like

For instance, if somebody else reported this offender below, what are the police going to do? They might initially reply to somebody they don't know, but there are hundreds of these No MOT offences in just this small area. OpSnap Lancs was set up as an efficient way to just bin video cases with as little effort as possible. Even if they actually wanted to prosecute and deter similar offenders, they're not going to touch anybody in an expensive car, because the shyster lawyer would show they'd done everything incorrectly and the offender would get off anyway. So the only reply anybody is going to get is 'due to short-staffing we were unable to look at this case'

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wtjs replied to wtjs | 1 month ago
0 likes

they're not going to touch anybody in an expensive car

And, indeed, they haven't. Reported on Christmas Eve for driving around for 2 months without MOT. It's now 4 months driving around without MOT

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wtjs | 3 months ago
2 likes

Yet another Audi red light offence at speed about to be ignored by Lancashire's Kings of Cool. It's just the same as all the others, this was just somewhere to put it while I await upRide approval. Black A4 K7 DDY was a long way from the lights when they turned red, further even than the white Audi Q5 towing a caravan was- another case ignored by the police

https://upride.cc/incident/t90jdt_audiwithcaravan_rljatspeed/

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belugabob | 3 months ago
3 likes

And, in recent news...https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/cw90d7gr90eo.amp
I wonder if this is a similar MO to Lancs Police...?

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wtjs replied to belugabob | 3 months ago
3 likes

I wonder if this is a similar MO to Lancs Police...?

I'm afraid this is too long for most readers! The BBC doesn't seem to be saying these Staffs. officers were fixing things for money. I used to be pretty sure that unofficial payments to 'disappear' offences were not infrequent at Lancashire police, but this avoidance of doing anything about any traffic offences at all indicates that corruption would have to be so widespread that it would be bound to be found out. I now think that there's some pressure from the top to avoid recording offences in order to fix the figures, with only an occasional private enterprise backhander involved. Fixing the figures was what pushed Greater Manchester Police into 'special measures'. Just the number of No MOT cases I have reported on a short section of road between home and Garstang would be enough to point to a problem, so I think they don't want to acknowledge that and just ignore them along with everything to do with cyclists. The people they dislike most are not the crims, it's people who report offences- especially when they report with evidence.

It all 'came to a head' with this case below- a close pass by Renault van YA67 HMU, which I don't show here because it's nothing like bad enough. I naively didn't routinely check MOT etc. status in those days because I didn't realise that MOT evaders are 10-a-penny round here. However, I had the be sure the 'M' wasn't another 'H' and checked and found that the MOT had expired on 11th January. This offence seems like nothing at all, now I know they don't care about 'No MOT for 6 1/2 years', but I was surprised at the time. I didn't mention the MOT in the report, due to my rather pathetic 'Sherlock' complex- I had already cycled up Death Highway, the A6, early in the morning 3 days after the close-pass to the glass company's works, to catch the van arriving at work! When the OpSnap response arrived (they used to reply in those days!) saying they were taking action, in what they imagine to be cunning wording in which 'no action at all' is covertly included in the list of 'actions', I noted the MOT evasion. I thought 'clever boy, that's caught them!'. However, Sgt. Dave Lavin (note that I'm not worried about being sued for libel- that's the last thing LancsRozzer and 'call me Dave' will go for- all the emails are stored by Bill Gates Inc.) doubled-down and assured me that the DVLA website was 'not refreshed as often as the PNC' and that the van was covered by a valid MOT. (I hadn't mentioned the DVSA website which is generally updated immediately after an MOT, and must be what supplies the PNC) I kept checking, and sure enough the van then got an MOT on 23.3.23. I then wrote a disingenuous email to Dave and the top brass at OpSnap Lancs asking, essentially, 'are you sticking to your story about the van's MOT coverage on 4th February' and they all immediately blocked my email address rather than explaining that 'an unfortunate mistake was made at the PNC' or whatever they could make up- even the police could see this escalating out of control and didn't want anything else written down. I then came to the conclusion that LC is institutionally as 'bent as a 9-bob note' (special reference for the elderly). That's why I am rather more convinced by the river sonar expert's account of the Nicola Bulley search than the probable cover-up by the College of Policing.

https://upride.cc/incident/ya67hmu_fortonglass_closepass/

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ktache replied to wtjs | 3 months ago
1 like

Peter Faulding's autobiography is rather a good little read.

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Flintshire Boy replied to ktache | 3 months ago
0 likes

.

Buying it straight away!

.

What Lies Beneath: My Life as a Forensic Search and Rescue Expert

by Peter Faulding | 2 Feb 2023
4.3 out of 5 stars 184
Hardcover
£13.99
RRP:
£18.99

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Flintshire Boy replied to wtjs | 3 months ago
0 likes

.

'the river sonar expert's (link is external) account of the Nicola Bulley search'

.

Very interesting reading. Thanks.

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eburtthebike | 3 months ago
1 like

Perhaps all Lancashire Police Officers are members of the political party that is the party of drivers.  Whatever, the litany of failures is staggering, and I'd be writing to my MP and the media, exposing their incompetence in protecting the public.

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wtjs replied to eburtthebike | 3 months ago
3 likes

 I'd be writing to my MP and the media

I've written to Ben Wallace MP more times than I can recall. The last email, sometime in Spring resulted in the advice to complain to the police about the police. Media? There are very few cyclists around here, so the media will be anti-cyclist- waste of time. 

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Muddy Ford | 3 months ago
1 like

*war on motorists  

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lesterama | 3 months ago
5 likes

Perhaps it's about time that all you Lancashire cyclists got together and complied a (looong) list of piss-poor behaviour from Lancs police. Could Cycling UK shame them with a campaign? This is way beyond a joke.

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Bungle_52 replied to lesterama | 3 months ago
2 likes

I often think that tackling lack of police action in response to poor driving around cyclists would be a much better use of CUK's resources rather than bringing court cases against authorities in connection with cycling infrastructure who just carry on as before any way.

https://road.cc/content/news/rat-run-bridge-will-remain-open-motorists-s...

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chrisonabike replied to Bungle_52 | 3 months ago
0 likes

Hmm... taking the police to court?  Probably better ask wtjs...

Not that getting councils to shift is easy (people can spend a lifetime trying to get through a cycle route) but isn't there some quote from millenia back about the circularity of trying to police the police?

Still - efforts to drain the sea are needed.  If only to help those in the organisations who are on our side feel less lonely and that some of the public care.

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Rik Mayals unde... replied to lesterama | 3 months ago
4 likes

I  unfortunately have had cause to call on the services of lancashire Constabulary. They are absolutely piss poor indeed. They are a joke, every time I have reported a near miss they have fobbed me off. I recently called 999 to report a drunk driver who was so pissed he couldn't talk and could barely walk. I was put on hold and eventually hung up as I couldn't follow him any longer. i struggle to think what they are actually good at, other than arresting someone for calling a trans person by the incorrect pronoun.

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brooksby | 3 months ago
9 likes

Reading this article, and reading the many (many!) comments by wtjs over the years, I just don't understand.  You would think that prosecuting people for careless/dangerous/hazardous driving would make the police force look good, as well as making their road network safer, so why are they so very averse to actually doing anything?

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Patrick9-32 replied to brooksby | 3 months ago
4 likes

Any punishment of drivers, for any reason, feels to a large swathe of drivers, like a direct attack on them. Most drivers speed a lot of the time/whenever they can, if drivers are punished for speeding they have to do one of two things,

1- Accept that what they are doing is actually a dangerous, serious crime and perhaps change their behaviour, this option requires a level of introspection most people don't enjoy.

2- Maintain their status quo and continue to believe that speeding isn't an issue and they are good, safe drivers by deciding they are being attacked and oppressed by a "war on drivers". 

Punishing road violence has a negative impact on how a lot of people view the police. How many times have you seen "why don't they go and catch a real criminal and stop wasting their time" type comments on articles about police road crime prevention initiatives?

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wtjs replied to brooksby | 3 months ago
8 likes

Reading this article, and reading the many (many!) comments by wtjs over the years, I just don't understand

I suspect that many people think that Lancashire Constabulary can't be as bad as the victims claim, that with considerate and careful handling they would be much more amenable and effective, and that much of the blame lies with victims expecting too much. I wasn't anti-police until I experienced the 'it was only a momentary loss of concentration' dodge when somebody hit me on the Sainsbury's exit road when coming down the wrong side of the road. Apparently, it was the fault of the dark and the rain which no driver could have been expected to observe. I got the camera soon afterwards. All of the cases I have put on here are genuine, and nothing has been done about any (some advice letters were alleged to have been sent in the early years) of them. They claimed to be taking action over this-yes, everybody has seen it before- but are going to extraordinary lengths to refuse to disclose what action it was (because it was nothing at all!)

https://upride.cc/incident/4148vz_travellerschoicecoach_closepass/

Lancashire Constabulary really is this bad, and they really do think that if a cyclist hasn't been KSI'd, he has nothing to complain about. They really do think that motorists have to break those annoying laws about unbroken white lines when cyclists are around, and they really do think that passing traffic lights at red is OK because everybody does it. Why haven't we complained?! Believe me, I have tried, but Lancashire is trapped in the perfect storm of an inept (I think they're bent as well, and extracting unofficial fines from people to 'disappear' ofences, but that's essentially impossible to prove and nobody will believe it) police force, a really hopeless and stupid 'Professional Standards', and an MP who just repeats 'complain about' the police to the police.

I did complain about this

https://upride.cc/incident/md68fwc_apcovernight_whitelinecross/

and the conclusion of Professional Standards was that (repeated yet again, I'm afraid) they couldn't do anything without confirmatory video from the offending vehicle. There actually was a dashcam in that APC van but it was either 'not working/ not switched on'- I can't remember which. Any complaints to the PCC PR machine result inevitably in 'we can't interfere with operational decisions of the police'. Everything of any interest can be described as an operational decision of the police. I did hope people would have learned and remembered about LC from the Nicola Bulley case, but memories are short.

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brooksby replied to wtjs | 3 months ago
3 likes

wtjs wrote:

Any complaints to the PCC PR machine result inevitably in 'we can't interfere with operational decisions of the police'.

Which does make you wonder what the point is, of a PCC… 

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wtjs replied to brooksby | 3 months ago
6 likes

Which does make you wonder what the point is, of a PCC… 

The point, as far as the PCC is concerned, is a regular stream of self-congratulatory videos on local social media- such as this recent one, which is hilarious for those who don't live in Lancashire. This one includes a comment by me of a couple of days ago, in response to yet another PCC PR team '24/7 kickass dynamos' reference to LancsFilth

Please be assured Lancashire Police Roads Policing Unit are working to tackle vehicles that are not road worthy.
 Catterall•1d
More festive jollity! I don't think you'll be replying to me about WU59 UMH, 6 1/2 years with No MOT, insurance or VED - but we can't let OPCC get away with blatant fiction without protest!) and a failed MOT in September 23- failed for serious safety defects. Vehicle last seen by me on Croston Road, Garstang at 13.16 on Saturday 16th December toting girders and other metalwork onto the Cockerham Road. The police ignore all the reports, as you would expect, and the PCC tells me that ignoring these offences (and this one in particular) is an 'operational decision of the police' so they won't interfere with it. What is the point of the PCC?
 
And they haven't replied
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Rik Mayals unde... replied to wtjs | 3 months ago
3 likes

I have reported two vehicles, owned by the same person to Lancs Police on a number of occasions. Both park on the public highway and are in daily use. One has dodgy plates on which do not belong to that vehicle, and the tax on the other expired three years ago. Yet they police are not interested, and the vehicles are still in use. What do we need to do in order to get our police force to do what they are paid to do, uphold the law?

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wtjs replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 3 months ago
2 likes

and the tax on the other expired three years ago. Yet the police are not interested

You're right, they aren't, but at least they're honest about that where VED/ SORN is concerned- they openly declare it's nothing to do with them. When I detected van DX13 OPM on the A6 last November the operator had evaded VED for over 5 years despite having regular MOTs. I think the police have decided 'if the DVLA can't even be bothered with a gross evasion like this when it's on their own database, why should we care?'

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Rik Mayals unde... replied to wtjs | 3 months ago
2 likes

I can vouch for you as a proud Lancastrian who lives just a few miles away from Garstang. Lancashire Police are an inept disgraceful excuse for a police force. 

I have zero respect for them, and I used to be a police volunteer, and my wife worked at Lancs HQ. 

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HKR | 3 months ago
6 likes

"Immediate Response team"...   That is hillarious given their tardy efforts.

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eburtthebike replied to HKR | 3 months ago
4 likes

HKR wrote:

"Immediate Response team"...   That is hillarious given their tardy efforts.

Typo: it's the Immediate Excuses Team.

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jthef | 3 months ago
8 likes

Lancashire police are usless!!!

reported this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmvCsAyr8S4

and when I chased it up a week later nothing so they missed the 14day rule. but the kept saying they were doing somthing about it (leading me on) for months. Put a offical complant it but nothing changed.

this one he got a warning for the asualt but nothing for driving me basically off the road. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHOdG9vhnX8

Absolutly no confidance in lancashire police when it comes cycling and dangrous passes.

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wtjs replied to jthef | 3 months ago
5 likes

Lancashire police are useless!!!

They're considerably worse than that. I have experienced the same dodging behaviour as they try to pretend they're doing something and you find that the case was closed months ago 'but they don't know who did it because he didn't sign the log'. I haven't been physically assaulted yet, but I know what they would do if I was. Nothing. It took months for them to 'have a word with' the close-passing BMW driver who said (on video) that he was going to "fucking flatten" me and knock me off my bike. I'm just providing a bit of variety with some different incidents where they, of course, did nothing at all. Not even the joke 'advice letters'

https://upride.cc/incident/pn14msx_coachcarpetsducato_closepass/

https://upride.cc/incident/du61vhj_stuartbraithwaitebuilders_dwlcrossclosepass/

https://upride.cc/incident/yl16rnv_infiniti_closepassdwlcross/

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