OK, this is getting ridiculous now. I wasn’t intending to turn my police complaint into an open letter, but recent events convince me that it’s well past time to get serious about this.
Back in February, I wrote about police attitudes when it comes to incidents involving motorists’ endangering cyclists on the roads, in this article. That was partly following on from my experience on reporting an actual collision the previous September, and partly from my many experiences of trying to get the police to take the matter seriously. (Incidentally, despite the fact that I reported it to GM Police, I see that the actual collision I mentioned above does not appear in the 2013 Stats 19 statistics.)
Three recent incidents prompted me to make a formal complaint, which I was just going to pursue quietly, at least for the time being. However, this video from another cycle camera user, which shows a police driver displaying the same ignorant attitude as many aggressive drivers, has made me feel rather angry. So here is the complaint I sent, in an old-fashioned paper letter, a week ago. The appendices referred to were slightly modified copies of the following articles:
Here is the letter:
Professional Standards Branch (PSB)
GMP Force HQ
27th October 2014
Dear Sir or Madam,
Police Handling of Cases of Dangerous and Aggressive Driving
I am writing to complain about the Police’s handling of three recent incidences of dangerous and aggressive driving around vulnerable road users. My complaint is in two parts: the first is concerned with the repeated refusal of officers to address the dangerous and threatening behaviour of some drivers in interactions with people on bicycles and refers to three incidents; the second is with the failure of officers in K Division and F Division to respond properly to my complaint about their handling of one of these incidents.
1. Failure to deal with aggressive and dangerous driving
As someone who rides a 25 mile round trip to work and back on a bicycle, it is not unusual to encounter drivers whose behaviour puts my safety at risk, and it is clear that this is, on occasion, deliberate. It has been very frustrating that, on occasions when this has been severe and I have reported incidents to the Police, with video evidence, officers have: (a) just dismissed the incidents as not warranting any serious attention; and (b) demonstrated a high degree of ignorance about Government recommended cycling practice, and even used their ill-informed opinions as an excuse to justify the behaviour of the driver and to avoid taking action. It is clear that this failure to address such dangerous behaviour is a significant factor in perpetuating the problem.
The cases that I wish to bring to your attention I have written up as blog articles and provided copies of those articles in the attached appendices:
- Log number 748-10/10/14, vehicle registration number MK05AWC, occurring on 7th October 2014 at 8.05am. This is described in detail in Appendix 1.
- Log number 762-10/10/14, vehicle registration number EK54SVX, occurring on 9th October 2014 at 8.31am. This is also described in detail in Appendix 1.
- Log number 1239-17/10/14, vehicle registration number HT57BZY, occurring on 16th October 2014 at 8.28am. This is described in detail in Appendix 2.
A particular concern in relation to the attitude of officers in cases such as this is that they appear to see no difference between situations where a motorist, for example, sounds the horn at another motorist, and cases in which a motorist uses their vehicle as a weapon to threaten or intimidate a vulnerable road user.
As an outcome of this complaint, I would like to see the Police conduct and publish a review of policy regarding the handling of such incidents, and a clear alignment of that policy with the guidance that is given to cyclists under the national cycle training scheme, Bikeability.
2. Failure to respond to 101 calls
In relation to case (c) above, I called to complain about the police lack of response, and I am still, after 6 days, waiting to receive a call back from a police officer. The log number of this complaint is 564-21/10/14, and the complaint was regarding the handling of log number 1239-17/10/14. I have so far only been able to talk to 101 operators and to someone on the Customer Service Desk at F Division, none of whom have been able to get a response to me from the relevant officers. I was also told by the person on the Customer Service Desk at Salford that the matter has been passed back to K Division and given a new log number, but she was unable to tell me what the new log number is.
This series of phone calls I made is described in detail at the end of Appendix 2.
The bottom line here is that people are getting killed out there on the roads and the police seem extremely reluctant to deal with the underlying causes.
I look forward to receiving your response.
I would like to propose that any bicycle riders in Greater Manchester who have been affected by these issues get in touch with a view to making a concerted effort to change these disgraceful attitudes thst exist within the Greater Manchester Police Force.