Thursday 4 November 2010

The Metropolitan Police. Do they take cyclists seriously?

Why would I doubt it?  Well, I have tried using the Roadsafe reporting website on a few occasions and have not yet elicited any kind of response beyond an automated acknowledgement.  I complained to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner back in September and have had only a holding response despite chasing.

I decided I would report this morning's incident (see my immediately preceding blog post).  Since it has required, and no doubt will require, a substantial investment of my time I thought I would spend the further time to report here how I get on.

I reported this morning to a central number, gave very outline details and was told the matter could be taken further only if I reported to a Metropolitan Police Station and filled in the form applicable to road rage.  I was also asked to take in the video evidence.

I have just returned from visiting Charing Cross Station.  It took just over an hour.  The appropriate form is not available to be picked up, you have to get to the counter.  After a 20 minute wait I got to see an 'SRO'  (Station Reception Officer, I think).  He told me first that I could not have a form as there had not been a collision.  I told him I was there at the request of somebody else in the Metropolitan Police and had compelling evidence of a crime in the form of a video.   I had as requested taken the video along on a CD.  'Are you a licensed to take copies of videos...No, well then I am afraid we cannot use that video.  If we were to use that in Court it would be thrown out'.  (Not true).

I persevered and eventually he went away to consult a sergeant.  20 minutes later he came back saying he would record the details as a public order offence.  He took my details and recorded my answers in his computer.  The questions included
'What were you wearing, was it fluorescent?'
'Were you in lycra?'
'You were riding along the yellow line, yeah?'  Indicating, on Google Earth streetview, the single yellow parking restriction line you can just see at the outset in my video.
'Did you inform him you were filming him?'
'Why did you have a camera?'

Before I left I again offered my CD.  No, he would not accept that and no it could not be passed on to Hounslow who were to investigate.  If they took it any further they would require my camera for about 3 weeks.

I was given a reference and told that if I had any further queries I was to revisit a police station with my 9 number reference.  No, I could not telephone/e mail.

I am just telling it as it is, with no comment.  I will update this post as appropriate.

Postscript:  I should perhaps have made it clearer that as a consequence of my persistence the details I supplied (without the video) will be passed to Hounslow Police Station for investigation of a public order offence.

UPDATE (8th November):  Progress.  I have been contacted by a Police Constable in Chiswick who is investigating and I have sent him a copy of the video (and the youtube link).

UPDATE (9th November):  I was pretty fed up as a consequence of Thursday's events so when the following morning I filmed some more aggressive driving, I put it on a CD and sent it to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner with a reminder that I had still received no substantive response to my earlier comments about the RoadSafe reporting initiative.  His office will no doubt have received that yesterday.  This morning between 0915 and 0930 I was sent e mail acknowledgements of the three reports I have made in the last week.  The first response of any kind I have ever got using RoadSafe so things are picking up.
I also got home last night to find a letter confirming that Chiswick were investigating the reported threat to kill enclosed with a leaflet from 'Victim Support'.
I will continue to keep you posted.

UPDATE (11th November):  The police advised by the CPS have decided upon no further action.  I have asked them to refer it to a more senior level within the CPS and indicated that I wish to complain.


  1. Hi Martin,

    If the Met fail to do anything about this, is it possible to bring a prosecution ourself, or would it need a civil claim on top of the criminal offence?

    An interested reader,


  2. Thank you for trying, and for reporting on the experience.

  3. What an appalling experience and an insight into the limited customer service that the general public receive from those that are employed to serve us

  4. 'Were you in lycra?'

    Is that a bit like asking a rape victim if she was wearing a short skirt?

  5. Can you post it on YouTube? I don't know how effective that really is but you do hear (perhaps apocryphal) stories of a viral effect leading to the thing being taken seriously.

    Or does that compromise its use as evidence ins prosecution?

  6. I wonder what response you'd have got if you were reporting abuse from a black-lycra-clad cyclist while you were driving your car...?

    I'd have thought that faking that video would have been extremely difficult to do without leaving some tell-tale signs. They could, at least, question the car driver for his side of the story (which, in itself, might cause him to think before doing this sort of thing again).

  7. Amazing. I'm sure this sort of thing isn't confined to the Met either.

  8. Next time, just punch the driver through his open window. It seems that will be the only punishment he will receive.

  9. On reflection, I'm not sure this is just about being a cycling complainant. My own experience with police forces (I refuse to use the word "service" as it is a misnomer), only ever as a victim, has never been happy. A couple of burglaries, where someone from the Met came to dust for prints but freely admitted they were unlikely to catch the burglar, and wouldn't try very hard - fair enough, I would prefer them to prioritise more serious crimes and more vulnerable victims like children or the elderly.

    More worrying, first I was run off the road into a ditch, with my two (then) young children in my Nissan Micra, by a road-rager. I got a description, and the number, of the car, and even established that it was a resident of the same village. Surrey Plod made it abundantly plain they weren't going to take any action - not even go and wag a finger at him and tell him to watch out - because it was his word against mine (no video evidence!) They then demanded I attend a police station within five days to submit my driving licence for inspection!

    Second time I was rammed up the chuff by a range rover who was too close to me when I had to brake sharply - he was trying to overtake on a narrow, windy lane at the time. Surrey Plod (again) sent me a NIP! Isn't the presumption that the car behind is at fault? After my 11 page insurance claim letter, which I put to further use as a rebuttal reply to them - complete with maps, Google Earth aerial shots and photos of scene and cars taken with with my mobile, I got a grudging withdrawl of the NIP and an offer of sight of their dossier if I was willing to pay a fee!

    I don't trust police, even as a law-abiding upper middle class (city accountant) citizen, so wouldn't waste my time on reporting anything to them, except to ensure the statistics are collected.

  10. One feels compelled to ask what's the point of the Police, if they won't take action when there's video evidence?

    As for the questions about Lycra, words fail me.

  11. Hi Martin,

    A very interesting read. I too have had poor responses from the police, but with perseverance have managed to have further action taken. Following a serious incident in March (involving a petrol tanker) where I eventually convinced the police to take it seriously, the driver was charged with Dangerous Driving. However, my problem now lies with the Procurator Fiscal (Scotland). I have still not heard what is happening with the case, and my e-mails for clarification end up going into the black hole that is the Dumbarton branch of the PF. I will continue to pursue and will probably publicise (via my blog and forums) the outcome.

    Good luck.


  12. Good luck with this, remember you can take a complaint to the IPPC about the way the police have handled it

    Keep recording all contact with them, and make sure you get the names of all the officers you speak to (although don't be afraid to complain anyway if there are any names you didn't get).

    And keep us posted here!

  13. This could be an important test case: you have to pursue it. Maybe get CTC on your side? they are great at things like this. The video shows absolutely typical car-cyclist interactions in my experience. BUt your case could help to make this abnormal instead of the usual experience for cyclists. Good Luck! Nick

  14. I feel your experience is typical, not long ago I was driving behind a guy in a convertible and followed him for half a mile over a roundabout and another junction as he talked on his phone. As a cyclist this worried me but when I phoned Sheffield Police they said they would only take action if I made my own arrangements to go to a police station and report it. If they had been prepared to visit me or even offer me an appointment at a police station I would have happily given a statement. Instead my impression was that they really wanted me to go away.
    Rewind 30 years and I was attacked and badly beaten by a man twice my size in front of witnesses because he didn't like where I had briefly stopped my car (causing him a minor inconvenience on a residential street).
    The police said it was a dispute between motorists so no action. Later I found that the Birmingham Housing Department was very anxious to get any sort of conviction against this person because he was using violence to evict unwanted tenants from private housing.
    The police let a violent criminal slip between their fingers so he could continue his ways, just like your dangerous and frightening motorist. I do not believe that any aggressive violence is an isolated act.
    Best wishes from Sheffield
    Chris Rust

  15. Hi Martin,

    Do you have an update? Thank you for pursuing this case! you are paving the way for all cyclists in the UK.


    John Gargan