Three Bristol Cycling Campaign members from the Road Justice sub group recently met the Chief Constable again to review progress on an action plan agreed at our last meeting. At the meeting we discussed evidence-based policing, officer training, ‘near miss’ reporting, and the response of Avon & Somerset Police to the CTC Road Justice pledge.

This was a wide ranging discussion that noted that progress had been made in some areas, but there was much to do. A further review of progress will be in October.  Here’s a summary of key points:

 

– Training for officers : In relation to dealing with cycling injury collisions, the Police have agreed that they need to improve the training of their officers, especially those who qualified some time ago. They will be initiating a number of training initiatives. We have been asked to attend a Neighbourhood Team meeting and may go to some Team meetings as well.
– Information for cyclists : We had written previously, and reinforced the message at the meeting, that we needed to develop what they had said about cycling and the law in order to give more comprehensive advice to cyclists involved in incidents. We are planning to put this on our website. The Police were keen to see, and be involved in developing, what we are proposing to publish.
– Evidence based policing : The Police are currently not able to capture data relating to cycling collisions and the situation will not change until they introduce a new computer system, which needs to be in place in 2015. The BCyC’s view is that this results in them focusing on very visible and highly politicised issues such as cycling equipment and pavement cycling without any evidence that enforcement action will impact on killed and seriously injured statistics. The Council do have the ability to pull off useful information but there appears to be no coordination or sharing of this with the Police. The BCyC needs to promote better working practices in this area.
– The CTC’s Road Justice recommendations : The Chief Constable believes that currently Avon and Somerset’s investigations of serious injury collisions do meet the required national standards. These are incidents where “serious” is defined as leading to death or life threatening/life changing injuries. The BCyC believes that there is currently a major problem with incidents which might not be that serious but never-the-less cause injury to vulnerable road users such as cyclists and which are investigated by less experienced officers, sometimes in a less professional way. Retraining of officers and greater awareness  of their role should help but the BCyC will need to continue to monitor the Police’s performance and would appeal to members to keep us informed as to their experiences on the streets. 
– When the BCyC set up its Road Justice campaign it was aware that the police did not attend all road collisions. They have assured us they will do so for all injury collisions. For resource reasons they would not undertake to attend non-injury collisions but would encourage cyclists to report them via their 101 service. Again the BCyC is keen to learn of members’ experiences in using this service.
– Public participation : We reported on how members are getting involved in raising and commenting on cycling issues at neighbourhood forums and participating in road safety initiatives such as Speedwatch.
– Currently the Police do not have an on-line collision and “near miss” reporting system. The BCyC has made a number of suggestions to them and officers are working to develop such a system. We hope to meet the officers concerned to ensure it meets the needs of cyclists and effective follow up action is taken against aggressive or careless drivers. New Incident Assessment Teams are being set up and we need to find out more about how they will operate.
– The Police claim that their in-house training will emphasise the need to approach collision investigations with an open mind (and not adopt a behind the windscreen view of cyclists’ liability). They also plan to extend the level of support for victims of collisions; their new Victims Code of Practice which should ensure that victims are provided with information about the progress of investigations and the availability of support services will apply to cyclists.

We will meet again with the Chief Constable in six months time to review progress. In the meantime we will be contacting Chief Inspector Andy Bennett who is responsible for Bristol district to progress issues of common concern between the Police, Council and ourselves.