Posted by Roger Nield
A question by @dombat via Twittter and the ‘Police App’ ever more appropriate with the growing numbers of GoPro’s and other devices in cars and on bikes these days.
Can I report driving offences by video?
Yes you can. In Runnymede neighbourhood police have had an agreement for years with the Safer Runnymede CCTV control centre
that where their staff see anti-social driving the local neighbourhood team will contact the owner of the vehicles and give them a warning. For example ‘boy-racers’ up on the Runnymede Pleasure Grounds. You will also see in other blogs, reports from the public of dangerous parking along the A30 that officers have deployed to in order to protect people lawfully using the highway.
The nub of the issue is this: If you report a problem at a location police can deploy staff to check it out and tackle any offences they observe there. If however you see an offence you must make a choice; are you prepared to report it to the police and support them in the investigation all the way to a conviction in court – or not?
If you are prepared to support a prosecution then your video of the offences now forms part of the evidence police need to prosecute the driver. Next police need to identify the offender and interview them. If the driver admits the offence then they can decide how to deal with the suspect from giving simply advice all the way through to issuing a summons.
As a key witness you would be asked to provide a witness statement on top of your video and you would need to be prepared to go to court. Note that police have to be able to show that the images were original and that all the evidence could be tested at the trial. (That’s why police officers have such a comprehensive evidence/property collecting/recording/storage system).
If you are not prepared to go to court you should still tell the police as they can then monitor the location and the vehicle you saw.
However there is a third way you can contribute to local road safety by joining or starting a Community Speed Watch [CSW]. This is where the public band together to capture evidence following training on equipment supplied by police. So what is the difference between CSW and your suggestion? Simply the training provided and a prior agreement so that CSW members know that folk they report will initially relieve a warning letter and the offenders will be flagged to local police for their attention.
The best way forward if you are concerned is to speak with your local policing team and work with them to address the problem. But never stop advising the police of dangerous or anti-social driving. It’s the public’s number one priority in Surrey and police officers work alongside partners under Drive SMART are working to tackle it.