The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) has set out recommendations for how police forces across England and Wales should process video evidence submitted by the public, with the aim of creating “a consistent level of service and user experience across the country.”
As submissions to our Near Miss of the Day series highlight, there is something of a ‘postcode lottery’ in operation at the moment, with different forces adopting varying approaches to how they handle video evidence of poor driving, including footage submitted by cyclists.
While many police forces actively encourage submission of video footage to help enforce the law against drivers who endanger others, some road.cc readers have told us that they have given up sending videos to their local police forces since based on past experience, they do not feel it will be taken seriously.
Others have found that even where their footage has been acted on, they are not told what specific action has been taken against the motorist.
In its guidelines, shared by Twitter user @Broadsword999, the NPCC says that footage from dashcams and action cameras can act as a tool to reduce road danger and sets out seven underlying principles for how a system to handle such submissions should operate.
Good to see @PoliceChiefs suggesting all forces adopt several basic principles about dash/helmet/cycle cam footage.
The lower section of Point 3 are specifically welcome - updates and feedback to the submitter. pic.twitter.com/qFEjgHXp4R
— Dan (@Broadsword999) July 15, 2021
The first of those concerns technology, with the NPCC saying that “members of the public should be able to submit video footage via an easy to find and navigate online platform,” and that “The upload process should be simple and able to support increasing file sizes.”
It also says that the “public-facing part of the system should be as consistent as possible nationally,” and that the way footage is processed should be automated as far as possible “to reduce staff workload and allow staff to interact with the public in a meaningful manner.”
The next area addressed is social media, where forces are advised to look at footage posted there and brought to their attention “on a case by case basis,” and that “where possible, the original footage should be secured and the social media post removed, so as not to undermine a potential prosecution case.”
That latter point also extends to encouraging people who have shared footage with the police, and who have also posted it online to remove their posts, with the NPCC saying that “An assessment should be made as to whether the initial or continued social media post undermines any potential prosecution case to the point where proceeding with the formal submission needs to be discontinued.”
As a result, if you do have footage you intend to submit to the police, you’d be best advised to do that and let their investigation (and any subsequent action) run its course before sharing it online, including by submitting it to road.cc for our Near Miss of the Day series, to avoid police rejecting the submissions on those grounds.
The third principle, and the most extensive one, relates to contact with the public and victim focus, stating aty the outset that “Information on where to find the submission system should be easily available and instructions on its use should be clear and easy to follow.”
It goes on to say that “Information, updates and feedback provided to submitters should be as consistent as possible across the country, thereby providing a constant level of service to the public and reducing complaints relating to inconsistencies between force areas” – the ‘postcode lottery’ we referred to above.
The NPCC says that “Members of the public should receive confirmation of a successful submission,” and “should be provided with a brief result with regards to their submission,” as well as being “kept up to date on, and supported through, any court process arising out of their submission.”
It adds that “Outcome statistics should be published in the public domain.”
Other principles outlined by the NPCC relate to off-duty police officers and members of partner agencies, other content, best practice sharing, and resourcing – with forces advised that “Interaction with the public must not be compromised.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.