John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk

RTC - progress with police

A couple of weeks ago, someone opened a car door while I was cycling past, which knocked me off my bike. I went along to the local police station the following day, and filled out a collision report form: this took about 45 minutes, since there are lots of questions. While I was there, I also filled out a form for February's incident (when someone changed lanes and drove into me), which took another 45 minutes. Once I'd finished, I handed in the forms and left. Nobody needed to talk to me, so if I'm in a similar situation again then I'll just pick up a form, fill it in at home, then go back later to drop it off.

That was on Wed 13th April. After I'd left the police station, I realised that I'd made a small mistake on one of the forms: in the "my vehicle" box, I'd written "Brompton" on both forms, but February's collision involved my other bike. I didn't want to go back right away because I'd miss my train, so I went back to the police station on Wednesday evening (on my way home from work). The person on duty pulled out an envelope with several collision report forms; I told her my name and the date of the collision, so that she could identify the correct form. I then made the appropriate correction and handed the form back. This is relevant because it means that the forms aren't processed locally: they get sent off elsewhere (to the Traffic Criminal Justice Unit). That also explains why nobody asked me any questions about the incident at the local police station.

I've now had letters from the police about both collisions. I assume that they're basically form letters, and the police select the appropriate one based on the type of incident, so it's ok for me to repeat them here (with personal data removed). The letter about February's collision arrived on Thursday (21st April) and the letter about April's collision arrived today (26th April). That's a reasonable turnaround time, and I'm certainly glad that I got some kind of response.

The letter about February's collision said:

I would advise you that it is the policy of the Metropolitan Police Service to investigate cases that have a realistic prospect of achieving a successful prosecution at court.

In view of the lack of independent evidence to support your claim, we are unable to initiate proceedings on this occasion. However, the registered owner/keeper of the vehicle has been notified of your allegation and a record of the incident will be kept within this office.

That's fair enough. I initially reported this as a "near miss" on the RoadSafe London website (since there was no damage/injury), and I just wanted someone to have a quiet word to the driver rather than prosecuting him.

The letter about April's collision said:

An investigation into this incident has now commenced and once all enquiries are complete and a decision has been reached, you will be advised of the outcome by letter. These enquiries can sometimes be quite protracted so I would ask for your patience and understanding in this matter.

This letter also included the contact details for the Case Manager who is responsible for dealing with this case. So, they're clearly taking this one more seriously than the other incident, and it's interesting to play "spot the difference" between the two:

  • April's collision involved damage (my front pannier and the scratch in the car I landed on).

  • I reported April's collision the following day rather than waiting for a couple of months.

  • I got more info in April: contact details for a witness (the other car driver) and the exact location. I also asked for insurance details, which I forgot to do in February.

Based on the first letter, I'm guessing that the neutral witness is the most important difference. There was a pedestrian who (I think) saw the collision in February, but I didn't ask him for his details.

I also received a leaflet with each letter, talking about the role of the TCJOCU (Traffic Criminal Justice Operational Command Unit). This basically talks about their limited resources, and the fact that they have to give priority to certain cases (e.g. the ones that involve someone dying), which is all reasonable. Here's one interesting quote:

Furthermore, there may be an expectation that with the proliferation of CCTV cameras through London searches will be made of these systems in minor damage cases. Resources do not allow us to carry out searches in damage only cases unless there are exceptional circumstances, as this would have the effect of diverting our attention away from those more serious personal injury cases.

I assume that the labour-intensive issue would be the search itself rather than viewing the relevant video footage. So, if I could produce a video from a helmet-cam, hopefully they'd be willing to look at it, and that might count as "independent evidence". I've now bought a helmet-cam (a ContourHD), and I'll talk more about that in another post.

Anyway, I think this shows that it's worth the effort of going to the police to report collisions. According to the leaflet: "Most traffic prosecutions are bound by a statutory time limit of six months." So, one way or another, I should get closure on this by the end of October.
Tags: cycling, police

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