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Here's what to do if you capture a near miss, close pass or collision on camera while cycling

If you've suffered a near miss, close pass or are the victim of any crime on the road while cycling, here's what you need to know about reporting it to the police and submitting your footage...

With the number of cyclists running cameras on the rise and our Near Miss of the Day series now at well over 800 editions, it's probably time for a chat about all things camera footage and what you should do if you capture a close pass or worse...

In fact, the head of road safety at Nextbase — the dash cam manufacturer that runs the National Dash Cam Safety Portal used by many police forces — last May revealed that submissions had increased by 25 per cent since the Highway Code changes of January 2022.

Sadly, as was the case when we last published a guide to reporting footage back in 2018, there is still something of a postcode lottery in operation here, with some forces proactively taking action on videos posted on social media and regularly taking action on submissions, while others lag behind.

> Near Miss of the Day turns 100 — why do we do the feature and what have we learnt from it?

However, it does in many ways feel like things are getting better, and Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Cox of Lincolnshire Police who is the national lead on fatal collision investigation is keen for more of the public's support as 'Active Citizens'.

"We need the public's support as 'Active Citizens' using dash cam or headcam to report road crimes they witness," DCS Cox told road.cc. 

"I believe this 24/7, 365 support in which the public can be anywhere and everywhere will act as a major deterrent to drivers who would otherwise be dangerous but now know their crimes can be captured by fellow citizens.

near miss of the day 837 close pass mercedes driver - screenshot via Das_Pig on Twitter

"As we start a new year, I want to put on record my sincere gratitude to every single person who took the time to submit footage. This life-saving work provides a real service to all road users. I know we (the police) are not always perfect in receiving this footage, acting upon it and updating people who take the time to submit.

"However, we are vastly improved from just a few years ago and we will continue to improve as this approach evolves."

So how can you submit video footage to your police force?

In short, it depends where the incident happened. There are 45 territorial police forces operating across the United Kingdom, and their approaches to video evidence gathered by members of the public vary.

Late in 2017, the four police forces operating in Wales launched Operation Snap, unveiling a website that allows people to submit photographic and video evidence and providing a national standard.

And while many English forces — including Gloucestershire as of December — accept Operation Snap submissions, there is no standard operating across the United Kingdom as a whole. Other English forces accept submissions directly via their website or through Nextbase who have a handy interactive map showing how to report to your force.

Police Scotland last year announced funding for a new National Dashcam Safety Portal, but the yet to be rolled-out scheme has since been under review and could be axed, prompting a campaign from Cycling UK to save it.

Submissions from Scotland presently should go through the Police Scotland Online Reporting Form, similarly in Northern Ireland you can go through the non-emergency online incident reporting.

Near Miss of the Day 813

So, wherever you live, if you are using a camera to film your ride, familiarise yourself with your local police force's policy regarding photographic and video evidence provided by the public. Also bear in mind, too, that the roads you ride on may be part of another force's territory.

While Operation Snap, for example, requires a video and supporting report to be submitted within ten days of the alleged offence, the earlier you submit it, the more time police have to investigate the incident; that is particularly important since any notice of intended prosecution must by law be issued to a registered keeper or owner of a motor vehicle within 14 days of the alleged offence.

The footage will also need to be unedited and may need to show one minute before and one minute after the incident occurs. We say 'may' because this used to be the case, but some of you have suggested it isn't nowadays, worth checking with your police force before you submit anything.

In some cases, they might ask you to remove it from any websites or social media channels you have submitted it to.

Wherever you are, the clearer the footage, the better it will be as evidence of what happened, so keep your camera clean and, of course, charged.

If you regularly watch videos captured by other cyclists on Britain's roads, you'll notice that often they will say the registration of the vehicle involved out loud – a good back-up in case it is difficult to read from the footage.

​Obviously, recording your rides requires camera kit, something one of our readers advises: "Best camera for the job, tends to be a fixed camera to pick up close passes, and a helmet camera for everything else.

> Best cycling cameras

"I ride with a light helmet camera, a GoPro Session Hero 4. Battery lasts about an hour, and SD card can be easily removed and video moved to laptop, using QuickTime to clip clips. These are about £75 used from eBay. When saving a video, use reg number, time, date and location in the filename when you save it. Easier to go back to later."

If you want to film longer rides, you'll need to take battery life into consideration too.

Can you get a witness?

As with any road traffic incident, whether caught on film or not, having independent witnesses is very helpful, and is even required by some forces.

Also, while any cyclist knows that there is nothing like a near miss or collision to get the adrenaline pumping, try to keep calm – we've seen cases where riders have been assaulted by motorists after remonstrating with them, which can also in rare cases lead to police rejecting footage, or even referring the cyclist for prosecution for a public order offence.

Even where a force does accept video evidence, there's the question of whether they will act on it, and, we're aware that some cyclists don't send in footage of road traffic incidents now due to past experience.

Near Miss of the Day 809 (Righttobikeit, Twitter)

That may be down to shortage of staff or other resources, or prioritising other types of crime over what may be seen as 'minor' motoring offences.

At the same time, we've seen police forces that do highlight cycle safety on social media – West Midlands Police and Surrey Police's road policing units, for example – take interest in footage posted there and ensure it is investigated properly.

A future without the postcode lottery?

There is always room for improvement, and Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK told us he hopes one day there will be a solution to the postcode lottery of present.

"Different police forces across the UK seem to apply very different approaches to video evidence submitted by cyclists," he explained to road.cc. "What one force would accept for investigation or prosecution is rejected by another as insufficient evidence or below the threshold for prosecution.

"To resolve this postcode lottery, it would help hugely if forces could collaborate to agree more consistent standards and processes for gathering, investigating, and taking action arising from the submission of video evidence.

"That would reinforce the messages given to irresponsible drivers, provide greater transparency on decisions made, and should reduce danger on our roads by improving enforcement action against careless driving."

Do you use a camera to record your ride and if so what is your experience, if any, of submitting footage to the police? Let us know in the comments below, and remember to state which police force it was. 

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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60 comments

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Hirsute replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
2 likes

Essex are poor at feedback and I have had basically the same incident progressed and given NFA, so there is a problem of consistency as to who gets the incident.

The local cycle campaign group have tried very hard and did get one meeting with the team but are left frustrated too at inaction and inconsistency. This all is despite Essex Police and Safer Roads banging on about vision zero.

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TonyE-H replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
0 likes

Essex are incredibly frustrating.  had two near identical incidents of being passed at a pinch point and being forced to swerve, one ended with a warning letter the other a course or coniditional offer.  When you raise this inconsistency they just refuse to engage, provide any explanations.

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Awavey replied to TonyE-H | 1 year ago
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In theory both your incidents were treated as the same, ie they passed the threshold for prosecution that Essex use.

it's only the resolution that differs and that maybe to do with all manner of things Essex dont want to discuss as it gives you more detail on the offender than they're happy to share with you. Like maybe 1st offenders get the letter and only a course if they repeat the offence, or the letter is used to alleviate the risk of court backlogs because the course/pts might be more likely challenged etc etc.

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TonyE-H replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
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If only there was kind of logic but it clearly isn't. 

Through my reporting to them I've started to suspect that there's one officer that takes these incidents more seriously than others, if they review it they are more likely to progress it to course/conditional offer whereas others will issue warning letters.

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Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
0 likes

Police Scotland online form ... Good luck using it*

Has a drop-down list of potential events**, none of which relate to motoring type offences.

When I've selected 'Other', nothing happens. No page reload, no next button, no chat window ... Nothing.

Doesnt help that I dont know what is supposed to happen as the site itself gives no clue.

Anyone else care to try?

* was having a look out of curiosity, and just in case I need to use it in future

** not selecting any of the other options as they are mainly domestic abuse /sexual assault related and as I dont know whats going to happen, I don't want to draw a resource away from someone that might need it.

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OnYerBike replied to Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
1 like

You can't use the "Online Reporting Form" for Police Scotland to report motoring offences. If you select "Other" incident type, a message should  appear saying "For any other reports which do not need an urgent Police response, please dial 101 or report using our online Contact Us form."

I use the online contact form, primarily because it saves you holding on 101. You can't submit videos/photos at that point, but you can put a brief description of the incident in the form. What happens next seems to be a bit variable - sometimes they have texted me and asked me to call 101, sometimes they have simply called me, and sometimes they have asked me to email videos to them. In all cases, to progress further the subsequent step is for two officers to visit you and take a formal statement. If you haven't previously sent the video/photos, then one of the officers attending will normally give you their direct email address for you to send it to (this does mean the file size needs to be small enough to be sent/received via email - I think emails bounce if attachments are >25mb which can be an issue for video files!)

(This is my experience living in Edinburgh - it might be different in other parts of Scotland).

Police Scotland have been talking about an online reporting portal but the latest is this is under threat from budget cuts... https://www.cyclinguk.org/blog/dont-let-police-scotland-scrap-new-dashca...

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Oldfatgit replied to OnYerBike | 1 year ago
0 likes

So the link in the article is incorrect.

How do we get Road.cc to correct it?

Thanks for your help, much appreciated

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Awavey | 1 year ago
0 likes

"While Operation Snap, for example, requires a video and supporting report to be submitted within ten days of the alleged offence"

Suffolk & Norfolk who use Operation snap, require you submit within 7 days, or its marked NFA.

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Hirsute | 1 year ago
3 likes

Andy Cox has referenced this article and linked a fuller statement

https://twitter.com/AndyCoxDCS/status/1610700522872348672

//pbs.twimg.com/media/FlpblcmXkAAd8bQ?format=jpg&name=medium)

//pbs.twimg.com/media/FlpblciXgAAgXWk?format=jpg&name=medium)

 

Awaits wtjs comments on 'world leading' !

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Awavey replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
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well theyre nice words/sentiment, and I know thats probably harsh to say as from his podcast appearance he passionately and sincerely believes in it, but ultimately they are just words, not action, and I want to see the all of the police truly demonstrate they believe in it as sincerely and passionately as he does.

Its interesting he mentioned the ratio of 2/3rds are enforced, last time I checked the numbers across Norfolk/Suffolk, which never seem to be updated thesedays, roughly 2/3rds were being rejected for unspecified reasons.

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Hirsute replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
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I think it is a long term thing. At least we have mark hodson, Andy Cox, inspector Kevin and now dame Sarah storey taking up the cause and positioned to be able to do something.
I think it will come down to money to persuade.
It costs the country X when there is a crash.
It costs Y for the crash investigation team and other emergency services.
It costs Z to train the team
If we are proactive, we can save on Z and Y (and X).

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Oldfatgit replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
1 like

Dashcams have been available for cars for at least a decade. 

Other than providing youtube revenue, they seem to have little or no imact on the way some people choose to operate their vehicle. 

Many choose to drive like cocksockets because they know that unless they are caught by plod committing the offence, nothing is going to happen.

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Secret_squirrel replied to Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
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Oldfatgit wrote:

Dashcams have been available for cars for at least a decade. 

Other than providing youtube revenue, they seem to have little or no imact on the way some people choose to operate their vehicle. 

I dont think thats entirely fair.  Dashcams on their own do very little - only giving you some notional usage for insurance companies.   For true change you need the full extent of change in people (drivers, cammers, policemen, magistrates), process (laws, police and court guidance) and technology (cams, radars).

To say there's been no impact is completely premature and I dont believe the high volume cammers like Mikey & co would agree with you.

Cultural change takes at least a decade, but it quite often snowballs.   Dry January is a good example of this.

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Awavey replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
0 likes

I dont know, do high volume cammers who submit 1000s of these things a year feel they have any impact at all when they probably know theyll be submitting just as many again this year ?

I dont think dashcams have had any impact on drivers behaviour.

I'm not sure what the link to Dry January is either, other than its massively over hyped as a concept.

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Buckland420 | 1 year ago
1 like

Thames Valley Police's 'Solvability Matrix' (sic) basically states that unless there's a previous history (3 reports in 3 months), or it meets the standard of Dangerous Driving, they won't take any further action. It's in dire need of updating to include any mention whatsoever of vulnerable road users. 
https://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/foi-media/thames-valley...

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HoarseMann replied to Buckland420 | 1 year ago
2 likes

should be called the Absolve-ability Matrix

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billymansell | 1 year ago
1 like

I know in Northants, who use Operation Snap, that they have started to include on the spreadsheet a column for the type of punishment accepted where a road traffic offence has been committed.

 

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Shims | 1 year ago
0 likes

Artical states 2 mins before and after the ev3nt....then goes on to say 1 min before 1 min after = 2 total....so which is it 2 mins or 4 mins total?

 

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Hirsute replied to Shims | 1 year ago
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Either a typo or a change in the typical request. Essex police only ask for 1 min either side now as opposed to the previous 2 either side.

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Clem Fandango replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
1 like

Surrey don't seem to insist on it at all now.  Had successful reports that occurred in the first 30s of a block of video (I mean I've got 2 mins before if they need it but was only able to upload one file).   They also do seem to be responding positively more often too since they changed the upload service to Nextbase.

 

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Oldfatgit replied to Shims | 1 year ago
1 like

It varies with each force.

Police Scotland initially require video by email... so your lucky if you can even get the event in, let alone anything either side

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Awavey replied to Shims | 1 year ago
0 likes

well personally I wouldnt have put any numbers like that in the article at all as theres no set standard across the UK police forces and its just going to be confusing for alot of people.

I dont recall ever being asked for a specific timed length of clip by Suffolk, merely a clip that shows the incident with its context, whilst reminding you they can request for more even upto the whole journey.

My camera is set to 5min clips, they get which ever 5min clip it happens in.

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Sriracha | 1 year ago
0 likes

What is the reason (beyond petty officiousness) behind the "no social media uploads" dictat?

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Oldfatgit replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
2 likes

As i understand it, Because they want to preserve the evidence.
If the driver elects to go to court, then there is an infantisimal chance that a jury member could have seen it before the trial and formed an opinion based entirely on the video ... and not on the performance that is the legal system.

Don't forget, you can be guilty as hell, but if the prosecution fails to prove it *beyond reasonable doubt* then you'll walk.

Up here in Scotland with have a 'Not Proven' verdict... basically means you're guilty but the prosecution couldn't prove it to the jury

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Sriracha replied to Oldfatgit | 1 year ago
2 likes

I take your point, but I don't understand how seeing the evidence will taint a juror. If that were the case, surely they should not be exposed to the evidence during the trial either, for the same reason.

And like you say, what are the chances anyway? It strikes me that this is just another layer in some Force's triage - reasons not to prosecute, 1, 2, 3.

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Awavey replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
1 like

its a CYA clause I think, its never been to my knowledge been tested in court either way, ie challenged or prevented a prosecution, and I will always repeatedly highlight the many viral social media and news clips of major incidents and crimes that never seem to harm the necessary prosecutions of people involved in those.

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IanMSpencer replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
1 like

The police are guided by the CPS. The CPS have to consider whether there can be a fair trial. A trial can be derailed by excessive pre-publicity and comment.

Unfortunately, the likes of Mr Loophole play on these things and are able to derail fair trials to their clients' benefit, so probably best to go along with the police.

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HoarseMann | 1 year ago
1 like

I always ride with a camera, but am under no illusion that the police will do anything more than send out a warning letter.

Of the handful of incidents I've submitted, only one went to court. I was later informally told that this was the only prosecution for close passing a cyclist this force had done in the previous 3 years (and possibly longer).

The system/law needs changing to make it easier for the police to issue penalties for this sort of driving.

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Dicklexic | 1 year ago
1 like

"The footage will also need to be unedited and show two minutes either side of the incident (one minute before and one minute after) that is being reported, and in some cases, they might ask you to remove it from any websites or social media channels you have submitted it to."

The 'two minutes either side' bit in the paragraph above does not apply for OpSnap in South Wales, so presumably doesn't apply in any of the other areas that use OpSnap. They do however insist that footage is unedited and not uploaded to any social media.

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huntswheelers | 1 year ago
2 likes

Sadly....it's pretty hit n miss..... expecially in Cambridgeshire , although it is BCH so 3 forces on the Traffic. If your footage is accepted all you get is they will get one of a number of listed options....... but no outcome sadly.. That has to change, it needs publicising more on Police social media including the punishment and what the close passing driver SHOULD have done rather than close passing.

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