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Near Miss of the Day 473: Nottinghamshire Police now treating close passes as ‘victimless crime’

Recent working group recommendation potentially paves way for other forces to follow suit

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.”

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

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.

> What to do if you capture a near miss or close pass (or worse) on camera while cycling

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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41 comments

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Glen C | 3 years ago
8 likes

WMPolice have had that from the start of accepting submissions by dash/ helmet cam. I have never been told anything including the one where someone attempted to push me off and one when the car literally brushed my arm as he came into my lane. They say it is because they do not have enough people to keep everyone updated. 

It is not even due to Witness as the one when I was knocked off by an Hit and Run meant I only got updated when chased and I think that was more because I had the Officers direct email address and could chase her. (She had promised to let me know so might have been that as well).

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Sriracha replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 3 years ago
6 likes

I think this is the truth of the matter - it's a load of hassle to keep the victim updated, so anything that reduces the administrative burden is seized upon. So somebody has worked out that by bludgeoning the truth until victim = witness = informant (because they did inform on the motorist, after all), they can ditch that load of admin.

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Awavey replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 3 years ago
1 like

agreed similar experience with my local force, but my concern would be well why have "several" forces sought out a legal confirmation on this if a bunch are already happily doing this ? maybe Im assuming our police forces actually communicate with each other to share process more than they really do.

but is the ultimate conclusion of this legal confirmation theyve sought really actually more a case of defining whats the minimum they have to do? 

and that now youll submit your video, it will be acknowledged,and that will the last you hear of it at all, no further updates about whether it led to a NIP or a letter was sent or even if the video was rejected, just acknowledged you submitted a video as an informant/witness

Avatar
eburtthebike | 3 years ago
9 likes

"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."

Exactly.  Close passes are not victimless crimes, they deter many people from riding and can have a serious effect on the victim, reducing their mobility and ability to take part in normal social events, or even go shopping.  With many of them, it would only take a gust of wind, a pothole, a stone in the road, to turn it into an injury or death incident; how can it possibly be viewed as a victimless crime?  The cyclists have clearly been harmed.

The national working group definition is irrelevant, and clearly is only designed to apply to cases where the informant is merely a witness, and has not been harmed.  I hope that CUK and others will be in touch with national police organisations to challenge the view that people who have received considerable harm and had their lives threatened are not victims, only witnesses.

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Sriracha | 3 years ago
11 likes

"Informants should be classified as witnesses."

Sure, 100%, if I pass information to the police about a crime against other people, I am an informant. But where does the working party recommend the additional leap of illogic that the police have taken, that in reporting a crime against myself I cease to be a victim of that crime and am merely a witness to the criminal's actions?

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Awavey replied to Sriracha | 3 years ago
8 likes

bizarre isnt it, Im also not sure how a number plate counts as personal data under GDPR,  as surely the only way that you can link a number plate to an individual,and it would only be the registered vehicle owner anyway who may not have been the one driving at the time, is surely only via already illegal means ?

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Sriracha replied to Awavey | 3 years ago
12 likes

"Data Protection" is the new "Health & Safety" when it comes to inscrutably vacuous reasons for prohibition.

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oceandweller replied to Sriracha | 3 years ago
7 likes

Absolutely. Notts Police are clearly wrong in their interpretation. If I was assaulted, by their lights I'd be a witness - coz I saw my assailant - & therefore shouldn't/couldn't be kept updated about the case. Plainly nonsense. A close pass is exactly the same except the bruises aren't visible. Time for CUK or someone to get the lawyers involved?

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alchemilla replied to Sriracha | 3 years ago
1 like
Sriracha wrote:

"Informants should be classified as witnesses."

Sure, 100%, if I pass information to the police about a crime against other people, I am an informant. But where does the working party recommend the additional leap of illogic that the police have taken, that in reporting a crime against myself I cease to be a victim of that crime and am merely a witness to the criminal's actions?

It's because a close pass isn't categorized as a criminal act. If no crime has been committed then there can be no victim.
I think the law needs updating to reflect what's actually happening out on our roads.

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Hirsute replied to alchemilla | 3 years ago
5 likes

So when those drivers are prosecuted as a result of a close pass, they aren't criminals?

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Secret_squirrel replied to alchemilla | 3 years ago
5 likes

Think you are way off there.  There are plenty of crimes that can be applied to close passes, starting from Driving without due care and attention and going up from there.   Don't confuse the police not doing something when they should, with the lack of an offence for it, otherwise you'll try to fix the wrong problem.

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