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Next entry: Sort yourselves out!

Previous entry: Look at this point-making driver

Saturday, 15 March 2014
Dangerous driving and Surrey Police

This incident of dangerous driving occurred under the watchful eye of Surrey Police (as I discovered when reviewing the video footage):

  1. The driver misused his horn.
  2. He overtook aggresively and without due care and consideration.
  3. He overtook me too fast and not giving sufficient space.
  4. He overtook me at a junction where it is prohibited to do so.
  5. He drove on the wrong side of the road, at a place where it is impossible to see oncoming traffic.
  6. He put my life, and potentially the lives of other road users, at risk.

This was all surely visible to Surrey Police, and yet the driver acted with impunity. So I am wondering whether the Surrey Police value my life as lowly as this driver does?

After the police were off the scene, the driver continued to behave aggressively towards me, and it appears that he was seeking confrontation. Later I observed him behaving in a similar aggressive fashion to another road user or users. Obviously I didn’t see the incident with the other road users, but if I review only the part that was witnessed by the police, I am clear that this driver committed an offence of dangerous driving under section 2 of the Road Traffic Act of 1988. When considered together, the number of different offences that were committed indicate that this was not “merely” careless driving.

His aggression after the incident is disturbing: I was relieved he didn’t stop his vehicle, get out and shout his sense of entitlement in my face (or do worse), but he was sending a signal that he felt entitled to do what he was doing, and/or that nobody was going to stop him (regardless of whether he saw it as wrong/right behaviour). Judging by Surrey Police’s response at the time, he is probably right.

Update: (15/03/2014)
The original incident occurred at approximately 17:00 yesterday.  I have reported the incident this morning to Surrey Police: Incident number P14075767.
I have also indicated that I wish to lodge a complaint against the police:

  1. The police officer/s in vehicle GX08LXW have acted inappropriately. It was incorrect of them not to intervene when witnessing this crime.
  2. The police officer/s did not show due respect or concern for my life and well-being.
  3. By these actions the police officer/s have undermined my trust in the Surrey Police, particularly (but not only) in relation to the way that they will deal with this incident.

I had carefully considered reporting the incident to Kent Police and making my complaint to Surrey Police, but in the end I lodged both with Surrey Police. Perhaps I have not completely lost trust with Surrey Police yet!

Update: (16/03/2014)
I have been contacted by a sergeant at Surrey Police who has advised me that:

  1. The vehicle was being driven by a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO).
  2. PCSOs are not empowered to stop drivers/vehicles in such situations.
  3. The vehicle itself was not equiped with a siren or blue lights to facilitate such an action (even if this had been a possible course of action).

The police sergeant told me that he will email the PCSO and estabish if he/she has already reported the incident, or whether he/she witnessed anything and is able to corroborate my evidence, and to ask him/her to contact me. In the light of the information provided I have informed the sergeant that I would obviously withdraw my “complaint” against the police as such a mechanism would no longer appear to be appropriate.

Update: (21/03/2014)
Today I received a letter from the Traffic and Process Unit of Surrey Police, dated 19 March 2014, with an ARB Ref: ABD/14/236:

The report of an allegation of bad driving on 14 March 2014 at around 17:00 at the above location has been allocated the above reference number. We are the office that will be dealing with the enquiries.

Please be aware that our enquiries may take some time to complete and dependant on the circumstances and lines of enquiry, the investigation may take up to 3-4 months and possibly longer. We will update you when we have any significant information.

Yours faithfully,
(Signature illegible)

Update: (31/07/2014)

Today I was informed by Surrey Police that the only suspect in this case is currently in prison serving a three year sentence for causing injury by dangerous driving in an unrelated case, pursued by a different police force. He has also had his drivers licence revoked for four years and will have to retake his test in 2018 if he wants to drive again legally.  The police will not pursue my case further at this stage (or any stage I guess) because the driver is already serving a more serious sentence than could be expected for this incident.

Note that I had to again call Surrey Police to get an update, and that (while I feel vindicated for my accusation) I feel disquiet at having been subjected to an encounter with this dangerous menace in the first place.

Update: (4/08/2014)

Here is the copy of the letter received today from the Surrey Police, Traffic & Process Unit:

Further to your recent telephone call requesting an update on this matter, I have reviewed the file and ascertained that the motor insurance policy holder for the offending car was given a custodial sentence and a four year driving ban together with a requirement to retake his driving test for unconnected serious motoring offences.

The driver in this case was never ascertained as no response was ever received to our driver nomination letters and the current owner of the car informed DVLA that he sold it some time ago. It is believed that the suspect in this case was the motor insurance policy holder but we cannot pursue a fail to nominate charge as we cannot disprove any likely defence claim that our letters were never received by the defendant. This in turn means that as the identity of the driver cannot be confirmed, Surrey Police cannot bring a prosecution for driving without due care.

As we only have six months from the occurrence of this incident to complete our enquiries and given that the principal suspect in this matter is already serving a custodial sentence and a driving ban, the file has been closed.

Your sincerely,
xxxx
Decision Maker

There is so much here that is frustrating to me, and I don’t know if I can do justice to it today:

  1. I understand that the 6 month limit is a time-limit imposed by Surrey Police on themselves.  If I consider my earlier report (prior to this one), this resulted in them dropping the case after 4 months, as the registered keeper denied that their vehicle had been at the location on the day in question, despite my photographic evidence of the vehicle being on the scene, with a photograph that included GPS and date-stamped data.  Now this data can probably be faked, but it would require some expertise, and the police could always examine my mobile phone to determine who was lying. 
  2. Given the process and time limits along the way (for the police to send the letter to the vehicle owner, to wait for a response, to follow it up again) the chances are that Surrey Police will always get to the borderline of the time limits if the owner of the vehicle fails to co-operate.
  3. Unless Surrey Police prioritise reckless and dangerous driving, they will then simply be “forced” to drop the case after three or four months.
  4. As for being unable to identify the driver, the lesson seems to be that the owner/driver of the vehicle is rewarded by lack of cooperation. And was it not possible to obtain a photograph of the driver and passenger of the vehicle from the video I provided?

I also note that Surrey Police were the people who (allegedly) responded to an allegation of bad driving in Oxted by suggesting that the mother of the cyclist should not allow her son to cycle in Oxted.

Posted by bigblue on 15/03/2014 at 09:19 AM
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