While we wait patiently for things to get better for us cyclists here in Cardiff, many of us have taken to riding with cameras to document near misses and poor driving.
Operation SNAP is GoSafe Cymru’s new scheme for reporting offences and submitting video footage. However, when it comes to the pursuit of justice there are rules that need to be followed.
Nobody enjoys near-death experiences on their way to work and you would be right to feel angry about having a run-in with a motorist displaying a cavalier attitude towards your very existence. This is where footage can be invaluable, but it is important to remember that this footage is evidence in any case you wish to bring and needs to be treated as such if you plan to use it.
Whilst in the heat of the moment it is easy to post footage on social media in an attempt to shame the driver, the courts and the police tend to frown upon this approach. You are essentially jeopardising your case before you even start. DO NOT post your footage on social media if you plan to use it. This is the digital equivalent of entering a crime scene without gloves and those fetching blue bootie-slippers.
DO NOT post on social media. If you have already done so, please remove the footage immediately.
Source: GoSafe – About Us
The process starts with you completing the submission form about the incident. Here you need to provide details of when, what happened and where in as much detail as you can.
You will then be contacted by the police and asked for more detail as well as your footage. They ask for unedited footage, so you cannot play around with it for cinematic effect, no matter how much you see yourself as the next Michael Bay. This will be on a USB stick, an SD card or a memory stick. Authenticity is crucial here as the defendant’s counsel can reject evidence if it believes it has been tampered with.
In terms of proving the authenticity of the video recording, the Prosecution must be able to show that the video film produced in evidence is the original video recording or an authentic copy of the original and show that it has not been tampered with. In order to do so statements must be available which produce the video evidence as an exhibit and which cover its continuity and security, unless it is agreed by the Defence that this is not an issue. If the Police retain the original video film then a statement from the person who took the film (together with continuity statements) will be sufficient to produce the video recorded evidence as an exhibit.
Source: Exhibits: Legal Guidance: The Crown Prosecution Service
We see quite a lot of video footage of near misses, close passes and collisions on social media. This frustrates us no end because they are often cases that need to be followed up. However, if you don’t play within the law there’s a pretty good chance that nothing will change.
We don’t yet have a close pass initiative here in Cardiff, mainly because the statistics are not in favour of one. However, we know that these scary incidents take place on a daily basis, but they are often not reported and charges are rarely brought.
If we want dangerous driving to be taken seriously we need to play within a very stringent, very inflexible legal system. The onus is on us to read the rules carefully and work within them as best we can. Whilst it may sound cold, we’re dealing with a police force that has been on the receiving end of budget cuts for over five years and in terms of priority, we’re way down in the pecking order.