Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Metropolitan Police/CPS response; brace yourselves

Thank you for sending me the disc. I have viewed it with a colleague and unfortunately there is not enough there to secure a conviction or give the male a PND for this offence of Sec 5 POA. I have spoken to a CPS lawyer who is based at Hounslow Police Station and on their advice their is not enough to secure a conviction and that the threshold test has not been met. I appreciate you will find this disappointing to hear and I can only apologise for that. For this reason the investigation will now be closed.
Kind Regards
[Police Constable]

My response:

Dear [Crown Prosecutor],

I refer to your decision that there is not sufficient evidence of a crime (specifically use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby, contrary to section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986) to give rise to a reasonable prospect of a conviction. I take it that you have decided this on the basis of the evidential test.
The evidential test should only be applied when all the available evidence has been reviewed and this includes an assessment of any Defence that might be put forward. If the allegation is put to the motorist and he admits making a threat to kill; then it seems to me incomprehensible that any potential prosecution would fail a merits test. If on the other hand he denies making a threat to kill (or exercises his right to silence), there is still my evidence that he made such a threat coupled with a repetition by me of what he said on a tape (which is equivalent to a contemporaneous note) and a further requirement to explain why he would have admitted threatening to kill me if he had not actually done so. At the very least the video evidence I have supplied you with provides strong corroborative evidence of my account which gives rise to at least a 50% prospect of conviction.
I have already informed the police that I retain the original and complete film recorded onto a mini SD card and I can think of no possible informed basis upon which anybody could doubt the admissibility of that evidence. Indeed a forensic analysis of the file may confirm my account of the actual words spoken by the motorist as he drew alongside me.
You are also bound to bear in mind that that threat from a car driver immediately alongside me is equivalent to making a threat with a loaded gun. All he need do to actually kill or maim me was to steer even further over to his left. This is an offence which should be taken seriously.
If it comes to a consideration of the public interest, you will no doubt bear in mind that cyclists are extremely vulnerable to harm inflicted intentionally or carelessly by motorists. There is a widespread perception that cyclists are often not enjoying the protection of the law to which they are entitled. Threats and abuse against cyclists is unfortunately widespread especially in the outer London boroughs and the main problem is (usually, though not in this case) securing sufficient evidence to take action against the minority of motorists who are determined to persecute cyclists.
I invite you to reconsider this decision and to refer it to a Senior Crown Prosecutor.

Yours faithfully,

Martin Porter

The evidential test is described in the Code for Crown Prosecutors (scroll down to section 4).


  1. Are there criteria for the "threshold test", or is it completely subjective?

  2. Is the police response quoted verbatim? "Their (sic) is not enough evidence to secure a conviction.." Their what?

    Anyway, if they can't be bothered to investigate rape cases, and falsify statements so that they can close them down, as we have been reading today and yesterday, what else would you expect?

  3. I am really sorry to read this. Reminds me of trying to get the police to prosecute a man without any success whatsoever. This man, who was parked in a bus lane, doored me as I had to cycle close by owing to another driver menacing me. When the police arrived - it was just outside a police station, so no real effort there! - he turned out to have no driving licence or insurance and the car was not his. They did him for all these three things but they refused to prosecute him for knocking me off my bike, though my injuries resulted in my having to take six months off my bike. The police said there was no proof that I had been doored and that it was my word against the driver's. I pointed out they could not have got him for no insurance, licence etc., if he had not knocked me off my push bike. Shocking. It is six years ago and I still seethe to think of their incompetence and ill-will.

  4. Eugh. Unsurprising, but still useless.

    Anyway, I was posting this to say that your "code for crown prosecutors" link seems to be broken.

  5. Good luck with pursuing this. It would be a service to all cyclists in London to force the authorities to treat these kind of incidents with the seriousness they deserve.

  6. We're watching this one with great interest Martin - your calmness as you dealt with the guy is a great example to some of us who get a bit hot under the collar!

    All the best.

  7. Keep at it Martin! I, and I think all other cyclists, really appreciate the effort & time you're putting into pursuing this case!

    All the best,

  8. A realistic prospect of conviction is an objective test based solely upon the prosecutor’s assessment of the evidence and any information that he or she has about the defence that might be put forward by the suspect. It means that an objective, impartial and reasonable jury or bench of magistrates or judge hearing a case alone, properly directed and acting in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict the defendant of the charge alleged. This is a different test from the one that the criminal courts themselves must apply. A court may only convict if it is sure that the defendant is guilty.

    Like you, I fail to see what possible grounds are being used for refusing to proceed with a prosecution, given that that "the male" openly admits to the offence on camera.

    Please keep pushing on this.

  9. If the CPS/Police are making a hissy fit over "lack of evidence" I'm just at a loss to describe how I feel. If they want to hear the original statement from the driver's window then that is forensically possible.

    We all know about how CCTV images can be enhanced, but from my experience of using audio and recording equipment any audio track, even on a video, can be enhanced to a decent sonic level. The Police have access to this equipment.

    The Police and the CPS really need to start growing some balls and realise that by tackling drivers like this, although he may have not have been serious (his driving still lacks a suitable quality we should expect) they may be nipping other behaviours in the bud.

    As a road user and pedestrian I'm sick to death of the way the Police and CPS treat these things, even deaths are not considered serious enough as fines seem the fashion. It is almost as if they are saying: "...well, if you will play with traffic you deserve to get hurt!"

    It is institutionalised negligence against the public.

  10. Good luck! I didn't manage to get Nottingham police out of their office chairs even after a car-driver turned sharp left and collided while in middle lane of 3, overtaking me at 30mph downhill.

  11. Good to hear you are pursuing this. I have reported an incident in the past also but got the impression that the police just weren't interested in taking it any further.

  12. Keep chasing them. I really appreciate your commitment to the cycling community.

  13. Doesn't this case illustrate the continuing hypocrisy of our current legal system. A frustrated comment on Twitter to blow up an airport results in the lad being fined and losing his job, although he had no means to carry out the threat. A motorist threatens to kill a cyclist whilst in possession of a deadly weapon, response, nothing.

  14. I was going to make precisely the same point, Roger.

  15. Money can be found to give out "Hi Vis Gear"in some areas but those in employment at the CPS cannot find "Time" already paid for and utilise it to get a result for a section of the community our "Elected Leaders" claim to be working at encouraging.

    CPS personnel are i am sure busy dealing with a "Workload" but refusing to handle an almost "Slam dunk" prosecution defies belief.
    What kind of message are they trying to send to the community by this refusal to act?

    Had this been a child or teenager trying to grab headlines but here we have a member of the legal fraternity being "Slapped Down" by a pencil pushing, workshy, junior (PC?) !

  16. FOllowing your blog for a while, keep it up. It's good to have a reasoned voice.

    Saw this in the Telegraph. The man got banned for dangerous driving. Seems like there are, again, no standards on how serious some incidents.

  17. Any update on this? I'm absolutely astonished at the police's response. As a fellow London cyclist I want to thank you for your tenacity - keep it up!

    If it actually turns out that there is no legal avenue, can we get the press involved?

  18. If you'd broken the c***ts jaw I'm sure the police would have prosecuted you! Keep up the good work though!