Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

Police chief writes to cyclist to explain why he can't investigate crash

Greater Manchester Police's Sir Peter Fahy says cuts mean too few staff to investigate crashes, and protected bike routes needed instead...

Greater Manchester's chief constable, Sir Peter Fahy, has written to a cyclist who was hit by a car to explain police budget cuts mean they won't investigate the collision.

Richard Hearne, who was knocked off his bike when a car pulled out in front of him, wrote to Sir Peter expressing his disappointment that no action was taken following the crash.

In a candid assessment of the challenges of policing roads with strained resources, Sir Peter, who is retiring in October, replied to say he understands cyclists don't feel police give enough attention to road safety but attendance at road traffic collisions won't bring down casualty rates, only decent infrastructure can do that.

In his reply Sir Peter said: "Firstly I am sorry you were involved in such a dangerous incident and GMP very much appreciates that many cyclists feel that poor driving by motorists is not taken seriously enough.

"Just because we did not attend your incident does not mean that we don't care about this or there is no interest in road safety. It is just that the number of priorities we have far exceeds the number of staff available.

"Since 2010 the size of the force has reduced by 1,600 police officers and I lose on average seven more every week. There are no plans to recruit any new ones in the foreseeable future because of continued cuts in funding.

"I know you will say that potential injury on the road is a serous issue and it is but the question then is whether police activity will have an impact.

"There is no evidence that the police attending road accidents has any impact on casualty figures. Speed cameras work because they can be sited at the most dangerous places and increase the chances of being caught.

"The police attending an accident does not affect your chances of being in a morgue. What has most impact on cycle casualties is road design and separate cycle paths and improved lorry design.

"We take complaints very seriously and that is why we have agreed to speak to the driver and why I am writing this at 10.30pm on a Friday night — but this will not change our overall policy or our ability with sharply reducing numbers of staff, to attend all the incidents the public would like us to attend."

Mr Hearne exchanged insurance details with the driver and reported the incident to police, who said they will not take further action.

The 32-year-old told the Bolton News: "I am astonished that the police have said they are not going to investigate this. I could have been seriously injured or killed, but it seems that if you are not injured then they don't take it seriously.

"It has not put me off cycling, it has made me more determined if anything. I have installed a camera and some more safety lights now though."

Add new comment

53 comments

Avatar
Lycra Lout | 8 years ago
0 likes

Also, not dealing with 'minor' incidences and near misses is bad economics. Eventually you will have to deal with death, and that costs a whole lot more for the police force. Better to increase policing for the common issues to reduce the propability of the major ones.

Avatar
Lycra Lout | 8 years ago
0 likes

As has been said, dealing with an incident post collision is more important than attending one.

Avatar
sswindells | 8 years ago
0 likes

Theres a lot of ignorant comments on here. I'm a Police officer, and I don't go out of my way to support Policing because there are a lot of dumb things that the cops do that I disagree with.

Police find lots of resources for protests. - Yes by cancelling officers days off to deal with them. Think of that when you seem to assume they are all on overtime or duty time, they aren't. It's their days off with family, friends etc being ruined. A lot of Police Officers are avid cyclists, this is there cycling days off being cancelled. It's a foolish statement to think there are lots of us for protests. It's only by cancelling those few precious days off we can Police them. That includes Barton Moss.

More people are killed on the roads that murdered - Oh ok, so an intentional act of violence designed to end someones life is less important than usually poor driving behaviour? Ok, less women get beat up by their husbands than have their cars scratched. Lets give up on helping domestic violence victims too. Yes cyclists and pedestrians can be killed on our roads, but the vast majority of the time it is not intentional. Murder on the other hand is.

Vigilantes - That'll really help the situation. Hiring private security, who are ultimately enforced muscle, so then so will others. That is what a gang is in theory. Muscle enforcing ones will on another, a protection racket. I don't see how "we're not investigating this incident" reads "that's OK hire someone to protect you instead". I suppose every time a window is broken, there are no witnesses, and no other evidence and the Police say they can't investigate that opens the doors for vigilantes to take over?

Inept management with cuts to Road Policing - No, it's putting resources where they are needed. I wouldn't like to say what an average day looks like but I can promise there will be more of a need for officers to attend emergency calls like domestic violence, burglaries, sexual offences than there will to be to deal with crashes on the roads. So it makes more sense to put the officers there. When there was lots of money and lots of cops then yes big traffic policing departments, now there isn't, so all they can do is react, and usually they're reacting to serious crashes not minor ones.

There are probably loads more comments up there but I can't be bothered to go reading them all and replying.

Lets put it simple, there are a lot fewer police officers now, and what is left have to prioritise what is important right now, what's important later, and what can we hopefully sort out when we have a free minute.Vulnerability is our biggest priority, protecting vulnerable children specifically. Then vulnerability in violence and abuse. Sexual crime features high up there. Because MOST road traffic incidents are accidents (as in not intentional) we don't prioritise unless it is really serious, in which case we do go. But as our Federation are massively highlighting at the moment under the campaign #whatdowestop I'll give you an example, the other weekend there was 2 of us covering a large inner city area, within the space of 5 minutes we had 3 emergencies, A domestic violence incident, female heard screaming things being thrown about then silence. A burglary in progress occupants and children in the address. A suicidal male who has phoned to say he is on top of a bridge over a dual carriageway. How do you expect us to then attend a traffic accident where there aren't any injuries, everyone has exchanged details, there is no reasons for concern? To be honest we'll never go to that traffic accident because we'll never get time and it's not an appropriate use of our resources.

TL:DR - The cops are busy enough dealing with day to day serious incidents, sometimes you have to accept that they won't be coming out to your bump or disagreement with a driver when you aren't seriously hurt. If it's that important to you obtain details, inform the Police about what has happened over the phone or in a Police station, then let your insurance (no win no fee injury lawyer) do the rest.

Avatar
jollygoodvelo replied to sswindells | 8 years ago
0 likes

Believe me, I appreciate your predicament. There are 30 million tax payers in the UK, would I pay £10 more tax a year if it meant £300m extra in the police budget (for example), yes I would. And yes, I'd rather you went and 'dealt with' someone hitting their wife than coming to take the details of someone who's had a minor bump.

Sswindells wrote:

More people are killed on the roads that murdered - Oh ok, so an intentional act of violence designed to end someones life is less important than usually poor driving behaviour? Ok, less women get beat up by their husbands than have their cars scratched. Lets give up on helping domestic violence victims too. Yes cyclists and pedestrians can be killed on our roads, but the vast majority of the time it is not intentional. Murder on the other hand is.

[...]

Lets put it simple, there are a lot fewer police officers now, and what is left have to prioritise what is important right now, what's important later, and what can we hopefully sort out when we have a free minute. Vulnerability is our biggest priority, protecting vulnerable children specifically. Then vulnerability in violence and abuse. Sexual crime features high up there. Because MOST road traffic incidents are accidents (as in not intentional) we don't prioritise unless it is really serious, in which case we do go.

I think the problem is, you are prioritising vulnerability, but treating the symptoms not the cause. Yes, on this occasion I've only got bumps and bruises. Or, in my case from a couple of years back, a broken wrist that means I can now only hold a pint or a saucepan with one hand. But if you (for valid and understandable reasons, as stated) treat such collisions as trivial, it reinforces the impression that driving with due care for other vulnerable road users is OK. And next time someone doesn't bother looking, I'm cooling on a slab in the mortuary.

Avatar
sswindells replied to jollygoodvelo | 8 years ago
0 likes

It's easy to say your treating the symptoms not the cause. Does that mean we should ignore those that have been victims and focus on stopping new victims? Or just focus on victims? Or try and help both, those that have been affected and those that might be? It is resource intensive. And when swinging savage cuts come we have to make a decision on what is important and affects more people. Unfortunately, protecting children comes first ad always will.

It is not trivialising road incidents, but it's about saying we can't do everything anymore. Instead of blaming the police why are you not protesting against the cuts? Or why not petitioning the driver standards agency to be more involved in bad driving and dealing with repeat offenders? It's an easy answer to blame the police.

What do you suggest? GMP had over 8000 police officers in 2008. Now they have about 6500 and are set to lose another 1000 potentially more. How do we provide justice to victims, stop the causes of crimes in the first place, protect road users, search for missing people, deal with all the other day to day stuff you don't see or hear about that needs to be done? A lot of people are quick to say you should be doing this or that but not many realise the complexities of doing it.

The fact I am on this site suggests I am a cyclist as well. I am not defending the police for not getting involved because as I have said the police do a lot of stuff I don't think we should. And waste time in the wrong places. But about 40% of the cops I have worked with are all cyclists too who commute, race, and just enjoy Sunday rides etc. none of us want to be in a situation where we are the victim of someone's poor driving. And we all know we won't get special treatment ( despite what you might think ). I would love to spend more time dealing with poor drivers, who run red lights, speed, park illegally and dangerously, and I'd also love to spend more time dealing with poor cyclists who ride without lights, through red lights etc. but unfortunately the next job I'm going to needs me there right that minute so I don't have the luxury to stop and do what I want to.

Sadly there isn't an answer which isn't "invest in more cops" because this government won't be doing it. So we have to make that judgement call which job we go to and where we invest time and resources with every single call. Sometimes we get it wrong. And CC Fahy is making no apology for it because he's just telling you what every front line police officer would tell you if you asked.

Trust me, nothing annoys a cop more than someone breaking the law in front of them and them not being in a position to deal with them.

Avatar
ron611087 replied to sswindells | 8 years ago
0 likes
Sswindells wrote:

Theres a lot of ignorant comments on here. I'm a Police officer, and I don't go out of my way to support Policing because there are a lot of dumb things that the cops do that I disagree with...

There is a fundamental misunderstanding about safety in this post.

Roads are industrial environments in that they are places where dangerous heavy machinery operates. Nearly all other industrial environments apply near miss safety principals, including in the UK, rail and commercial air transport.

The premise of near miss safety is that there is a direct mathematical relationship between near misses and casualties. The only difference between an incident resulting in a near miss, and one that results in a casualty is chance. If you can't or won't act on near misses, you won't reduce casualties. It's that simple.

Key to acting on near misses is the process of investigation to find the cause, and apply remedial action. Without this in place all you can do is treat the symptoms (i.e., hospitalise or bury), not reduce the casualties .

We now have in writing that investigation will no longer be performed.

Great news for safety don't you think?

Avatar
Lycra Lout replied to sswindells | 8 years ago
0 likes
Sswindells wrote:

More people are killed on the roads that murdered - Oh ok, so an intentional act of violence designed to end someones life is less important than usually poor driving behaviour? Ok, less women get beat up by their husbands than have their cars scratched. Lets give up on helping domestic violence victims too. Yes cyclists and pedestrians can be killed on our roads, but the vast majority of the time it is not intentional. Murder on the other hand is.

Vigilantes - That'll really help the situation. Hiring private security, who are ultimately enforced muscle, so then so will others. That is what a gang is in theory. Muscle enforcing ones will on another, a protection racket. I don't see how "we're not investigating this incident" reads "that's OK hire someone to protect you instead". I suppose every time a window is broken, there are no witnesses, and no other evidence and the Police say they can't investigate that opens the doors for vigilantes to take over?

Inept management with cuts to Road Policing - No, it's putting resources where they are needed. I wouldn't like to say what an average day looks like but I can promise there will be more of a need for officers to attend emergency calls like domestic violence, burglaries, sexual offences than there will to be to deal with crashes on the roads. So it makes more sense to put the officers there. When there was lots of money and lots of cops then yes big traffic policing departments, now there isn't, so all they can do is react, and usually they're reacting to serious crashes not minor ones.

Lets put it simple, there are a lot fewer police officers now, and what is left have to prioritise what is important right now, what's important later, and what can we hopefully sort out when we have a free minute.Vulnerability is our biggest priority, protecting vulnerable children specifically. Then vulnerability in violence and abuse. Sexual crime features high up there. Because MOST road traffic incidents are accidents (as in not intentional) we don't prioritise unless it is really serious, in which case we do go. But as our Federation are massively highlighting at the moment under the campaign #whatdowestop I'll give you an example, the other weekend there was 2 of us covering a large inner city area, within the space of 5 minutes we had 3 emergencies, A domestic violence incident, female heard screaming things being thrown about then silence. A burglary in progress occupants and children in the address. A suicidal male who has phoned to say he is on top of a bridge over a dual carriageway. How do you expect us to then attend a traffic accident where there aren't any injuries, everyone has exchanged details, there is no reasons for concern? To be honest we'll never go to that traffic accident because we'll never get time and it's not an appropriate use of our resources.

A death on the road is still a death - it doesn't matter too much to the victims whether or not it was 'itentional'. You are also implying that these things are unavoidable which is a laughable premise.

The comparison between car scratches and domestic violence also is not thought out. The difference between road deaths and car scratches is apparent. The fact that more people die in this way highlights that it is a serious issue.

The problem with a claim of 'priority' is that many will find it contridictory when things they perceive as less important take precendence, insinuating that people on bikes are unimportant. This cynicism has existed well before the budget cuts.

This was never due to a lack of evidence, either. The rise in camera cyclists hasn't been matched by a rise in prosecutions.

So, say someone is assaulted and punched. Now, of course we understand that this sort of behaviour shouldn't be ignored. However, what you are saying is that when someone is hit by a car and suffers bruises, it isn't important.

Avatar
Finndog replied to sswindells | 8 years ago
0 likes

Sorry for my ignorance but if you read the actual complaint from the cyclist involved it states he is astonished the police were not going to do anything further. It is not a question of neccessarily attending every collision but there is little excuse for not following up when an allegation of careless driving has been made. That can be done slow time. Its not always about getting some cash. I'll stand by my inept management comment. Fahy has been chief for 7 years, none of this has happened over night. Making "use of resources" comparisons between murder, domestic violence and road traffic incidents is crass.
If there were only two of you on duty in a busy town centre on a weekend then it was because either nothing ever happens where you work or it's a sign of more poor management. If you extrapolate GMPs job cuts so they can compare with your shift numbers then the normal number on duty where you are would be three. I bet there less response officers in GMP than there are main office or specialist investigator types. I'm afraid you show signs of someone who believes it is ok not to attend burglaries in odd numbered houses. Particularly with the broken window comment. The federation are on the side of ACPO or NPCC or whatever they want to call themselves (the vast majority of whom oppose regionalised police forces because they would lose their jobs, drivers, personal bag carriers but that's a different issue) so putting your faith in them is misguided.

Avatar
Housecathst replied to sswindells | 8 years ago
0 likes
Sswindells wrote:

Theres a lot of ignorant comments on here. I'm a Police officer

There we go just the type of comment the public expect from a police these days, together with general condescending nature of your post just because people question how the police spend their time.

You might be better off restricting your comments to those private police Facebook pages were you exchange racist jokes or whatever it is you get up to.

Avatar
harrybav | 8 years ago
0 likes

I like the sound of the fellow and am heartened that he has heard about the infra and the lorry design (10 years ago, he'd have mentioned helmets and cycle training). And it's nice that people become more candid at times, even if only just before they retire - we would not all do this in his shoes but it does have value, yes it does.

Avatar
Some Fella | 8 years ago
0 likes

Tonight (and not for the first time) i saw a police car and two officers tailing a G4S security van as it collected cash from a bank. They were both parked on double yellows but that is by the by.
My point is is that the police can find the resources to protect a private company as it goes about its business but cant find the resources to protect human life.
They also have no problem finding resources if there is a demonstration of some sort in town and GMP seemed to have an awful lot of resources at the recent protest at a fracking site at Barton. Once again 'protecting' a private companies interests.

Avatar
Housecathst | 8 years ago
0 likes

I would think more people are killed on the roads of greater Manchester than are murdered. Why not sack off investigating murder and put the police on the roads, it's likely to save more lives.

I'm being glib, but it would seam to make more sense.

Avatar
Rich Berry | 8 years ago
0 likes

I think it's telling that he refers to a collision as an "accident". You would think that he would know to avoid this terminology, especially in written form.

Avatar
GREGJONES | 8 years ago
0 likes

I suppose the end result of this erosion of policing would be a south African style situation, where private companies are employed to ensure the safety of those that can afford it in gated communities.

This looks at first glance as though it saves money and is only to the detriment of those who didn't' vote Tory anyway, I'd suggest that it would instead be to the detriment of all.

Avatar
ron611087 | 8 years ago
0 likes

Since the police have given written notice that they won't take action it opens the way for vigilante action.

Avatar
Stumps | 8 years ago
0 likes

There is some absolute drivel written here by people who know bot all about what they are typing.

If names and addresses are exchanged with no injury then a collision report will not be submitted, simple as.

Due to this govt there are simply not enough Police officers with in excess of 15,000 less than when they came into power and that number will only rise. They have made the job so unappealing and cut the starting wage to less than a McDonalds manager that no one wants to do it even if forces were recruiting.

Avatar
Airzound replied to Stumps | 8 years ago
0 likes
stumps wrote:

There is some absolute drivel written here by people who know bot all about what they are typing.

If names and addresses are exchanged with no injury then a collision report will not be submitted, simple as.

Due to this govt there are simply not enough Police officers with in excess of 15,000 less than when they came into power and that number will only rise. They have made the job so unappealing and cut the starting wage to less than a McDonalds manager that no one wants to do it even if forces were recruiting.

At least if you don't like the service you get from McDs you can go to Burger King or where ever. If the police service is crap your are stuck unless you make a private prosecution which you can only do in certain circumstances for certain offences with permission.

And a McD manager does a far better job. Neither does a McDonalds manager get quite the benefits that a fully fledged copper does e.g. gold plated pension, early retirement, nor the huge amount in over time coppers can rack up. Anyway McDonalds fast food places are run on a franchise basis. Are you suggesting this is the model you want the Government to adopt and you'd be on a zero hour contract? Perhaps you would prefer flipping burgers? No, thought not.

Avatar
ydrol | 8 years ago
0 likes

Cops appear to be conflating two things:
1. Attending the scene
2. Charging the driver after their details are known.

So it appears that anything that does not result in KSI will not go to court. So charges like "driving without due care and attention", "careless driving", "dangerous driving" are not going to be put in front of CPS unless bones were broken?

And even , a recent storey had a some police force describing broken ribs on a cyclist as 'minor injuries'??

Avatar
ChrisB200SX replied to ydrol | 8 years ago
0 likes
ydrol wrote:

Cops appear to be conflating two things:
1. Attending the scene
2. Charging the driver after their details are known.

So it appears that anything that does not result in KSI will not go to court. So charges like "driving without due care and attention", "careless driving", "dangerous driving" are not going to be put in front of CPS unless bones were broken?

And even , a recent storey had a some police force describing broken ribs on a cyclist as 'minor injuries'??

My injuries were described as minor... I broke 6 ribs, had concussion, and ended up losing a kidney, very nearly lost my spleen too! Police attended, but I'm pretty sure they didn't investigate. They blamed the collision on "cyclist error", but provided no explanation of how they came to that conclusion. I was hit from behind (in a cycle lane), by a taxi... driven by a 74-year-old.

Avatar
Finndog | 8 years ago
0 likes

The police have had budget cuts but to blatantly ignore an operational need (proper roads policing) is inept management not lack of funds. Cutting traffic cops is politically easy as cyclists are a virtually silent minority and cycling infrastructure is a local authority issue so the blame can be shifted neatly over to them.
I bet Sir Peter (along with all his other acpo cronies) has a long list of departments he has made "do more with less" that he has trotted out in promotion interviews over the years. Why can't he manage it now?!

Avatar
Airzound | 8 years ago
0 likes

Wrt to cycling and cyclists the police have always been more a hindrance than a help. They are part of the problem not the solution. They've always whinged how little resources they have whether now, 5, 10, 20 or 30 years ago. This chief copper's remarks are disgraceful. Dereliction of duty. Is it in the public interest not to apprehend, investigate and prosecute dangerous drivers? Of course not. With any luck soon after this guy retires he will suffer a heart attack and drop dead. This will save the public purse millions by not having to continue to pay out on his huge gold plated pension. Second thoughts if he is married his wife might still be able to draw it or part of it. Shameful.

Avatar
HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago
0 likes

The police have genuinely suffered huge budget cuts (and there's probably more to come). I believe them when they say that they have to make choices about what to do. As a country, this is what we voted for.

On TV the other day, a programme about North Yorks police said they have (from memory) 40 traffic officers for the whole county, which is England's largest. Presumably they're not all on duty at the same time.

People have effectively been left to their own devices on the roads - the police have more or less abandoned the idea of policing most of what goes on. Nobody using their mobile at the wheel will be caught and punished unless it results in a catastrophic accident.

Whether the police were committed to doing everything possible to protect vulnerable road users in the past, or would again assuming they had the funds, is another question. Might there be an attitude among some officers, that they'd just prefer cyclists to get off the road, because if they're killed or injured, it generates a lot of work and costs a lot of money?

Avatar
GREGJONES | 8 years ago
0 likes

I don't remember GMP making much more of an effort when there was more of them.

Further to that what other pibclic service gets to state they won't be able to complete their job unless they get more pay or staff.

As a teacher I'm expected to get results no matter what rooms I have to work in or how many students are in front of me, and I don't get overtime.

Avatar
Arno du Galibier | 8 years ago
0 likes

In Fairness I got knocked off 3 months ago in GM. GMP did attend within 10 min, took details of all involved (paramedic had taken them already), asked me to fill in a statement and filed a report on the RTC.
In this case it was a mistake from the driver: Didn't look, didn't see, knocked me off. He cocked up but it was not malicious. He got a rap on the knuckles and was sent on a course. I think it's fair. The rest can be dealt by the insurances.

The GMP Union is making no secret of how they are affected by cuts with a large number of adverts on the back of buses asking the public what they should stop doing (cue lots of highly emotionally charged options). I imagine that RTCs that are deemed "not serious" will be first to go...

Avatar
mlimburn | 8 years ago
0 likes

Had similar comments here in Plymouth last year, so the next time a bus nearly took me off, I got in front of it and blocked the road, and then called the Police. A breach of the peace (That's what they want to charge me under) was a higher importance than a bus nearly killing someone.

When I said the press will love this I was told on my way. However at this point bus drivers across the city were on there best behaviour.

Avatar
mrchrispy | 8 years ago
0 likes

Fahy isn't daft. he knows what he said will get out and cause a fuss and his intention is to gain publicity around the level of cut they are having to deal with.

If true then the potential lack of recording worries.

and I'd like to see him say operation protector (conference party security) is using 1/2 the officers they had last time and they wont be doing bomb sweeps as they are not cost effective.

Avatar
CarlosFerreiro | 8 years ago
0 likes

Greater Manchester Police
Guide to Reporting Road Traffic Collisions
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/280806/response/693107/attach/4/F...

"This guide is designed to assist all police officers and police staff concerned with attending and reporting road traffic collisions and processing related reports and files. It provides useful guidance on policy and procedure and promotes consistency across the Force. The reporting of road traffic
collisions is a core function of policing and, as such, should be dealt with appropriately."

"If you go to or come across the scene of a road collision or someone reports an accident or collision to you at another place you are responsible for enquiring into what happened.

It is our policy to report all collisions involving personal injury and some that involve damage."

"Horses, pedal cycles and pedestrian-controlled vehicles

You should also report any collision that may not necessarily be a reportable collision under the Road Traffic Act, involving injury to a pedal cyclist, horse rider or pedestrian-controlled vehicle."

Avatar
FrogBucket | 8 years ago
0 likes

This was a similar response to what I had from GMP. I was involved in a collision where the driver failed to give way, had video evidence and two witnesses. GMP decided a training course because prosecution wasn't possible due to "prioritisation" of policing.

Avatar
Kapelmuur | 8 years ago
0 likes

This stance by GMP is nothing new.

I was a lollipop man about 10 years ago and reported several instances of driving that endangered both me and the children I was employed to help cross the road.

Despite having witness statements I was informed that no action would be taken unless there was a casualty.

Avatar
jollygoodvelo | 8 years ago
0 likes

I have lots of sympathy for the police here - their budgets are being slashed and they do have to analyse where they can actually make a difference. They're right that attending collisions won't undo the event. But if they actually had a presence on roads that "encouraged" drivers to drive properly, the collisions would not occur as frequently.

Citing speed cameras as a method of improving driving standards is a dangerously disingenuous statement. I'm sure many London cyclists will confirm that there is greater danger from people driving aggressively or texting while under the speed limit than there is from speeders.

Pages

Latest Comments