This post follows on from one that I did on 29th November in which I wrote about four recent cases in which I felt the Greater Manchester Police failed to address dangerous and aggressive actions of drivers. I’m writing this one to update one of those and to document a new one that happened before Christmas.
Extremely close pass on a 5 year old
This incident was described on some depth in the the earlier article, so I’ll just summarise that here. The incident involved a driver passing very close when I was riding my elephant bike with my 5 year old granddaughter, clearly visible, in a child seat on the back, and is shown in this video:
This incident happened on 26th November 2016 and I reported it the following day. After a lot of delay on the part of the police, which is described in the earlier article, I finally got to show the video to an officer in Bolton North local resolution team at Astley Bridge police station; described in the update to that article. I had pointed out to the officer I spoke to that an option would be to serve a warning under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002, and she said that she would look into following that course of action.
I phoned 101 to follow the case up again on Thursday as I hadn’t heard anything, and received a call back later in the day. Unfortunately I was driving at the time so couldn’t take the call, but the caller left a voice message stating that “there was a decision with supervision that the powers under which you wanted the case dealt with, Police Reform Act Section 59, are not appropriate because there has been no previous recorded incident in which the vehicle was reported being driven in a similar manner”. He went on to say that the the driver has been spoken to and was very apologetic “if he came too close”.
I wish I could say that this kind of absurdity surprised me, but it really is nothing new. Why is it absurd? Here is an explanation. Section 59 of the Police Reform Act provides that if someone drives a motor vehicle in a manner which “is causing, or is likely to cause, alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public”, the police should serve, and record, a warning on the driver (or the registered keeper), and if another incident occurs involving the same vehicle or driver within 12 months, the vehicle should be seized. It says nothing about a vehicle having to be observed driven in such a manner more than once prior to such a warning being served; in fact, it makes specific provision for drivers and registered keepers to be given a warning in relation to a first offence before action is taken on a second offence.
There is no requirement for the police to warn a driver that if they do it again they will be given a warning; something that would be clearly stupid. They can’t even argue that this is a resource issue, since all that is required is that the officers who “spoke to” the driver just give him a formal Section 59 warning at the same time, and record it. This is quite simply another example of the police’s poor attitude towards the endangering of a vulnerable road user by a motorist. There can be no other interpretation; no excuse.
Deliberate, dangerous aggression from a bus driver.
This refers to an incident that occurred whilst travelling south on Blackburn Road and Higher Bridge Street, in Bolton, on 23rd December 2016 at 10.55 AM. The Greater Manchester Police log number for the incident is 1601 on 23/12/16.
The following video shows the incident, which starts with the bus driver blasting the horn whilst tailgating less than 0.5 seconds behind me – dangerously close – and finishes with a punishment pass in which driver overtook me in his 17 tonne bus about half a metre from my right shoulder:
This is assault, plain and simple, but we have seen many times that Greater Manchester Police are not interested in dealing with assaults if they involve the use of a motor vehicle.
At first, I was hopeful that the police would at least do something about this one. An officer at Bolton Central police station rang me the same evening, told me that the incident had been given a crime number (251770a/16), took details, and asked me to prepare a DVD with the video evidence to be picked up from my home by a PCSO. When I also told him that the DVLA database was showing the bus with that registration number as being red and untaxed since October, he also asked me to report that to the DVLA, which I did via their web site.
I prepared the DVD the following day and left it by the door to await collection … then I waited … and waited. OK, it was the Christmas period, so I was not surprised that there was a delay, but by the following Wednesday I was getting concerned. There is a 14 day time limit for serving a Notice of Intended Prosecution, after which nothing will happen, and by Friday that time would be half gone, so I called 101 for an update. The operator in the control room was unable to provide more information and could’t get hold of the officer dealing with the case, so he promised me he would get hold of the officer and ask him to call me. I never received that call, but I did receive the folowing SMS text message the next morning:
From: Greater Manchester Police Bolton – MESAGE FROM GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE YOUR CRIME HAS BEEN REVIEWED – AND THIS CRIME WILL BE FILED NO FURTHER ACTION – ANY PROBLEMS PLEASE CALL US ON 101 – THANKS.
Incredible. The video evidence that they asked me to prepare is still by the door waiting to be collected. I called 101 again to ask for an explanation, but there was none. I was just told that if I want to take it further I can make a formal complaint.
So that’s what I will be doing, including all five incidents that I wrote about in the previous article and this one.