Several police forces are treating close passes of cyclists by motorists as a “victimless crime” according to Cycling UK. The charity says that in treating a cyclist submitting evidence as only a witness, these forces are implying that their report isn’t been taken seriously.
A cyclist who suffered two close passes by motorists during one ride recently contacted road.cc to highlight the contrasting responses received from two different police forces.
Specifically, they were informed by Hertfordshire Police that they wouldn’t hear anything back on resolution of the case due to the Data Protection Act.
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.
It seems that Hertfordshire Police consider that if you’re closely passed by a motorist while cycling, you aren’t a victim on the grounds that you’ve suffered no harm. They are instead treating the person who submits a complaint as merely a witness.
Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK said that this was not how most forces in the country operated.
“Victims of crime are entitled to information from police forces about the progress of investigations and outcomes under the Victims Code of Conduct,” he said.
“Most police forces accept reports by cyclists of careless or dangerous driving, often close passes captured on camera, as a complaint by a victim. They’re then providing information about the investigation in compliance with the Code.
“Unfortunately, Hertfordshire Police and some other forces seem to have concluded that close passing a cyclist is a victimless crime, and are treating the person making a report and submitting evidence merely as a witness, to whom the entitlements under the Code don’t apply.
“For the purposes of the Code, a victim of crime is defined as someone who has suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm, which was directly caused by a criminal offence.
“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, so we’d implore Hertfordshire Police to follow the lead most police forces are taking, treating road crime as real crime and cyclists reporting close passes as victims.”