Three times is a pattern

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Tom Crispin:

In October [2007] I was assaulted by a driver after he had dangerously overtaken 12 eight-year-old children, a colleague and me as we cycled over a hump back drawbridge at the entrance to West India Docks, East London.

I reported the assault to the police.

British Waterways, who operate the drawbridge and locks, have CCTV pictures of the assault, and I have handed over a photograph, which clearly shows the number plate of my assailant’s car as he sped off.

On the 14th of every month I receive a letter from Bow Road Police Station Victim Focus Unit informing me that the case is still ongoing. Today I phoned the police station to complain that I felt the case was taking far too long to investigate, and I felt that it wasn’t being taken seriously. A sergeant called me back and told me that as the investigation was ongoing he would not record my complaint.

Is it normal for a simple assault case to take so long to investigate?

Jim Chisholm:

In mid March [2007], whilst cycling down Regent Street, I was hit by a motor vehicle that was overtaking me. I didn’t go flying over the bonnet, but the mirror caught my handlebar and I was thrown to the ground. I had grazes and bruises but despite my 60 years I was able to bounce up, although I certainly suffered in the few days that followed. [...]

I was hit approaching the entry to the 3.1m section, and was sure the incident would be captured on the CCTV. I had no doubt that the driver had either been extremely careless, or that he had deliberately intimidated me, even if it was not his intention to actually hit me. I certainly didn’t think I could be to blame for being hit by a vehicle attempting to overtake me. [...]

The police arrived promptly and efficiently, taking brief statements from the driver and myself, as well as taking the names and addresses of a couple of witnesses.

I later received a form to fill in, and patiently awaited a response from the police. Imagine my surprise when five weeks later I received a letter from the police Collision Enquiry Unit saying “no further action is being taken by the Police against any person involved”. I immediately rang them, and was told: “No action, cyclist not in cycle lane”.

Ian Jackson:

Professional Standards Department
Cambridgeshire Constabulary
Hinchingbrooke Park
Huntingdon
PE29 6NP

On Friday the 1st of December [2006] I was riding my pushbike in Cambridge. To cut a long story short, a taxi driver intending to intimidate me misjudged and collided with me from behind.

My partner reported the incident to you immediately; I collected the names and telephone numbers of three independent witnesses, some of whom had spontaneously approached me to give their details after they had heard the taxi driver lying about what had happened.

After some minor difficulty getting in touch with you, I was interviewed reasonably promptly and gave a statement. The investigating officer told me then that a prosecution for Driving Without Due Care would be likely.

Since then I have heard nothing from the Police. I have on at least four (more, I think) occasions attempted to enquire as to the progress of my case but none of your call centre staff had any information. On several of these occasions I was told that your operator had left messages with the investigating officer, or their colleages, asking for me to be phoned back, but that generally didn’t happen.

I did manage to speak to the investigating officer around Christmas and was told that the incident had been downgraded but that none of the witnesses had been spoken to yet. My attempts to get any information since then have been to no avail.

(You can read the rest of Ian’s sorry story on this thread on the cam.transport newsgroup. But suffice it to say that the police took no action.)

Now, I often get threatened verbally by motorists; from time to time objects are thrown at me from passing cars; sometimes drivers bump me with their vehicles while overtaking. A couple of times drivers have got out of their cars and attacked me. There have never been any eyewitnesses so I’ve never bothered to report anything to the police. I just treat it as part of the normal experience of cycling (it’s a good thing cycling is so much fun otherwise I would find it quite discouraging).

But the examples I’ve quoted above are all cases where there was CCTV or eyewitness evidence, and yet the police took no action. What are cyclists supposed to make of this pattern of events? The message that I am getting loud and clear is that the police are not interested in protecting me from assault by motorists.