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Police and Crime Commissioner Elections 2021 – Heather Shearer, Liberal Democrat Party

1. In Bristol in 2019 A & S Police recorded 318 incidents of injury to cyclists arising from collisions with motor vehicles. What initiatives would you like to see pursued by the police to reduce this number?

I would like to see A&SC running more schemes like the West Midlands’ Close Pass undercover cyclist scheme so that bad drivers are identified and instantly receive education on the consequences of their driving and how to improve it. I would also want to invest in the Roads Policing team so that there are more resources available to enforce directly on more roads, especially in 20 mph areas. Community Speedwatch teams can be very effective – I was involved in this on my own estate pre-Covid – but there are some streets where it cannot be done safely and often it is hard to find and keep volunteers. The PCC has a Road Safety fund for making grants to community organisations; I would like to know how much that has achieved and if money needs to be spent differently to ensure widespread road safety education.

2. Police records indicate that in the overwhelming majority of these incidents the motor vehicle driver was at fault, but in only 12% of these cases was any enforcement action undertaken e.g. warning letters sent, points awarded, education required or prosecutions initiated. How would you envisage ensuring that all incidents of careless or dangerous driving are thoroughly investigated and appropriate enforcement action taken?

This would be partly answered by ensuring that training – both on and off the job – acknowledged and tackled the prevailing culture that road crimes are somehow less important than others. Road safety is a huge priority for people in our communities and this needs to be reflected in local and central policing priorities, which again comes down to providing enough resources. It is clear that a finite number of police officers cannot be everywhere, but effective use of third-party reporting and camera footage would mean they could effectively be anywhere.

3. In relation to near misses logged online by cyclists, the police take no action other than record the incidents. In the case of video submissions of close passes and other dangerous driving submitted by cyclists, the police do investigate but do not respond with information as to what action they will take. If elected, would you ensure that all such incidents, however reported, were thoroughly investigated, appropriate action was taken and that cyclists were informed as to the outcomes.

3. A&SC has an excellent portal for uploading video submissions but managing people is as important as managing the technology. The people submitting the videos are victims as well as witnesses and need to be treated as such. Confidence in the police will increase if people are kept informed of the progress and outcome of their submission; they were after all harmed by dangerous driving. It is not enough to log the data.

4. Data on motoring offences is not regularly shared. If elected, will you ensure that data on roads policing activity and motoring offences is published regularly, that the number of injury collisions which result in prosecution is made public and that this data is broken down by vehicle type and local authority area?

4. We have to provide regular reporting of enforcement activity both at the local level and for the Force as a whole. The social media awareness campaigns need to be backed up with regular (if only annual) reports on the work undertaken and outcomes. These activities and records need to be shared widely with the community. I would want to review the effectiveness of the current harm assessment approach for determining allocation of resources and also the effectiveness of the camera enforcement. Cameras may detect and enforce the greatest number of incidents but I do not know what proportion of these relate to harm done or nearly done to cyclists.

A&SC have to work with groups, communities and authorities to be fully effective. I would be happy to work towards the recommendations set out by Bristol Cycling Campaign, Roadpeace and Cycling UK.

You can find out more about Heather’s plans for better policing at https://www.facebook.com/Heather-Shearer-Councillor-Page-110016944217312 or please email heather4betterpolicing@gmail.com

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