Thursday, June 23, 2011

Helmet Camera Conviction

Hat-tip to Manchester police who secured a conviction against Michael Stewart of Congleton, who pleaded guilty to to common assault and driving without due care and attention.

He got off the more serious charge of dangerous driving, but he received a £200 fine and £200 court costs. His licence was endorsed with five penalty points. He was also given a six-week community order with a four-week evening curfew.

Stewart is a "television sound recordist". I wonder who he works for? I hope I'm not paying his wages through my license fee.

It's almost unknown to see a prosecution, let alone a conviction, for bad driving where there's not been a collision, unless the police actually witnessed it. Yet it must be one of the most common offences. I daresay had there been no assault, the incident would never have been investigated or prosecuted, even with video evidence. The justice system puts a lot of barriers in the way of anyone wishing to get bad driving punished. To report an incident, you need to go to a police station, queue up for 15 minutes, get a 19-page form, fill it in, queue up again, hand it in, and it'll probably be ignored. No wonder most people don't bother. You can report incidents online, for example at Roadsafe London. Previously, I recall that website had wording to the effect that incidents you reported would not be prosecuted, but now there's a slight change of emphasis:

If you wish to report bad driving with a view to prosecution, and we consider this is an appropriate way to deal with the incident, you must be prepared to attend a police station in person, make a statement and attend court and give evidence.

It also says:

Occasionally, as well as reporting something to us, people post video footage in the public domain e.g. YouTube or similar sites. In the course of dealing with your information we may direct others to any material that has been openly posted, to raise road user awareness and to promote safety.

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