A video we published last week as part of our Near Miss of the Day series in which a cyclist received a close pass as well as the passenger of the vehicle sticking their arm out, possibly in an attempt to strike the rider, got plenty of comments here and on social media after the victim was told by police that they could not prosecute the driver, apparently because the footage only came from one camera.
We sought to clarify that with Staffordshire Police, and asked them whether that was indeed force policy, to which they replied that it is not – and the issue instead is that in this specific situation, no further action could be taken because the footage submitted to them did not capture the moment the passenger allegedly attempted to push the cyclist. Here’s what they told us:
We can confirm that this is not force policy and each case is assessed on its individual circumstances.
After looking into the report, we can see that that the informant was advised that further action could not be taken in relation to the allegation of the passenger attempting to push the cyclist, as the footage provided did not capture this.
The officer explained that a side camera may have recorded this, but it is not the case that two or three cameras are needed for a prosecution.
A warning letter was sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle in July 2021.
Unlike some other police forces, Staffordshire Police does not have a dedicated portal enabling members of the public to upload footage of incidents – whether from drivers using dashcams, cyclists running action cameras and the like – directly.
Instead, they told us:
It is possible to report road traffic incidents via our website and a reference number will be generated: Report a road traffic incident | Staffordshire Police
An officer will then make contact with instructions on how to submit the footage.
Kionne, the road.cc reader who submitted the footage of the July 2021 incident to us, told us when he sent the link to the video: “Not sure why the extended blast on the horn was required, I was not obstructing traffic, the road was wide enough to easily pass me, my position was good and my pace was good. You can see that all the motorists before were able to pass me without issue.
“As for the passenger, it was unclear whether he was trying to hit or push me but thankfully he missed.
“I reported it to South Staffordshire Police who sent out a warning letter, they told me there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the pass or possible attempted push as I only had footage from one camera.
“They went on to say I need to have at least two, possibly three cameras before they will even consider prosecution.
“In an attempt to appease me they said they see much worse than this and still do not prosecute,” he added.
Although the incident and submission to police happened nearly a year ago, Kionne seemed pretty certain of his recollection of what he was told and equally police are insistent on their version of how the chat went.
We shared the response from police with Kionne, who told us: “The officer that called me specifically said ‘we need two preferably three cameras’, he didn’t make the distinction that it would have been specifically for that incident.
“After we discussed the ‘attempted push’ and he said he wouldn’t take it further I asked what he was doing about the deliberate close pass and he said they couldn’t prosecute that because the camera evidence was insufficient to prove the distance or the intent. I even offered to do the work for them be going back to the spot with a tape measure and take photos but he said that would make no difference.
“If one camera angle is not enough to prosecute that close pass I can’t see how one camera angle would ever be enough for them to prosecute any close pass. You can see the car never even left it’s lane!
“It just sounds like as is often the case they just couldn’t be arsed to deal with it,” he added.
It’s an incident that does maybe underline a selling point of the type of 360-degree camera that the broadcaster Jeremy Vine, among others, uses while cycling – had the footage been shot on a device with that capability, it would have been possible in editing to ‘turn around’ as it were and see exactly what the vehicle’s passenger had attempted to do.
It also ties in with a longer-term project we are working on here at road.cc, namely how different police forces approach the issue of third-party submissions and how the results differ between them, and we’ll have more on that for you in the coming weeks.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.