Today’s near misses have revealed a change in policy at Nottinghamshire Police where close passes and other near misses are apparently now being treated as a ‘victimless crime’. The force now treats cyclists submitting helmet cam footage as merely witnesses following a recent recommendation from a national working group.
The Victims Code of Conduct sets out the minimum services that must be provided to victims of crime by organisations including police forces. This includes the right to be kept informed about the progress of any investigation as well as the outcome.
A victim of crime is defined as someone who has suffered harm – including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss – which was directly caused by a criminal offence.
The majority of police forces have up until now treated cyclists who have submitted footage of close passes or other near misses as victims. However, Nottinghamshire Police appears to have recently changed its position, meaning cyclists are instead being treated as merely ‘witnesses’ – which means they will not be updated.
Cycling UK have previously said that in treating a cyclist submitting evidence as only a witness, police are implying that their report isn’t been taken seriously.
road.cc reader Philip recently sent us the footage above. He has previously received updates about his reports from Nottinghamshire Police, but was this week informed of a change in policy in how such cases would be dealt with.
An officer from the force informed him: “With regards to your requests for an update from the footage you have uploaded, unfortunately due to GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, I am unable to supply you with the outcome.
“The reason for this is that your footage contains the vehicle registration of the offending person, and registration plates are classed as personal data, i.e. they can be used to trace the identity of someone.
“Moreover, although it has clearly affected you, you are not strictly classed as a ‘victim’, rather you are classed as a ‘witness’ to the offence.
“What this means is that you fall outside of the Victims code and there is no requirement to update you. Indeed by updating you, we are effectively telling you the outcome for the offending driver (another person), who could be traced via their registration plates, and consequently we would be breaking the law in terms of data protection and GDPR.”
Explaining the change, the officer said that a national working group had recently been looking into the issue.
They then quoted the group’s resultant recommendation, which may well be interpreted in a similar way by other forces.
Informants should be classified as witnesses. Several forces have sought advice on the legal position of providing updates to informants. There has been advice provided that to provide detailed updates on each case goes against the principles of GDPR and DPA and could be considered as providing identifiable personal data. As witnesses informants do not fall within the scope of VCOP and shouldn’t be provided with updates. Where cases are progressed to court then witnesses will be notified where their attendance and evidence is required and they will be able to observe proceedings once they have given evidence and updates once the court results are made public.
Commenting on this matter previously, Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK said: “Many cyclists reporting close passes and other incidents will have been shaken, distressed, and frightened by what’s happened, so the careless or dangerous driving isn’t victimless.
“It’s really disappointing that a few police forces are applying a narrow interpretation of the Code, to avoid providing information to people endangered by someone else’s driving. The refusal to do so implies that their report isn’t been taken seriously, because there’s no victim.”
Over the years road.cc has reported on literally hundreds of close passes and near misses involving badly driven vehicles from every corner of the country – so many, in fact, that we’ve decided to turn the phenomenon into a regular feature on the site. One day hopefully we will run out of close passes and near misses to report on, but until that happy day arrives, Near Miss of the Day will keep rolling on.
If you’ve caught on camera a close encounter of the uncomfortable kind with another road user that you’d like to share with the wider cycling community please send it to us at info [at] road.cc or send us a message via the road.cc Facebook page.
If the video is on YouTube, please send us a link, if not we can add any footage you supply to our YouTube channel as an unlisted video (so it won't show up on searches).
Please also let us know whether you contacted the police and if so what their reaction was, as well as the reaction of the vehicle operator if it was a bus, lorry or van with company markings etc.