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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.