Monday 22 April 2013

Incident reported to police

Went in to Parkside Station on Friday to report an incident. Won't talk more about said incident because I have no idea whether or not that is appropriate now. Suffice to say someone passed info about one of my youtube vids to the police and they see enough there to be worth looking in to.

I think however I'm safe making a few general reflections.

I suspect the Sergeant I was talking to knows about this blog; he's quite sensitive to the criticism that local police receive on cycling issues. I can see why. They're regularly lambasted here and elsewhere for being anti-cyclist. And he doesn't think its entirely fair. Again, I see why - he doesn't feel any animosity towards cyclist in general. I've talked to him about various things before and I think he's a decent chap. If he's reading this (I won't name him, that would seem oddly unfair on a good bloke doing a hard job) then I really hope that we're seeing a new chapter in Cambridgeshire Constabulary getting policing of cycling and related issues right. This is all good stuff. 

But lets strip out the fact that he's a decent sort (as I think are most police here) from the realities of living and cycling in Cambridge.

I have had good and bad experiences of local police. All of the good experiences I've had relate to being a resident in a community which isn't bad but which has had its problem families. I'd say that they didn't get everything right with those issues (I'm sure they'd agree), but they regularly handle monstrously difficult, complex situations and you'll never get everything right. All in all I'd say that the Police have never been the weak link in the chain when handling such issues - I'm pretty much happy with them.

Lets think through the bad experiences now.

I've gone to the police with eye-witness reports of a motorist getting out of their car and assaulting me. I was told that it wasn't an incident because I wasn't hurt.

I've gone to the police twice with reports that taxis had intentionally nudged me from behind. Was told on the first occasion that if there is no damage there is no incident, on the second I was taken aside by a sergeant and told that I was viewed as an eccentric.

I've had the lady on the desk at Parkside take down the details of a collision until such a time as I added the fact that I was a cyclist, then she entirely lost interest. 

I've phoned 999 because a guy was actually threatening me with violence after hopping his bike off the road in front of mine; I was told that its not an RTA if its between two bicycles.

I've stopped at light changing to amber to let two PCSO's across; rather than just cross they chose to be sarcastic at me about cyclists stopping at lights.

I've had an argument with a PCSO who was telling a child little older than a toddler that they should be riding on the road. Yes, to paraphrase, go and play in the traffic.

I have, twice, been stopped by Police constables for riding entirely legally on streets where they are unaware that two way cycling is permitted. 

I have reported cars parked in cycle lanes to the Police only to be told they don't deal with this, the City Council do - said body told me that the County Council should deal with it, and naturally enough they direct me to the Police. It transpires that NONE of them give a crap, nor do they respect citizens who do sufficiently to just come out and say that they'll each do nothing about it.

I have taken video footage to the police, of motorists intentionally swerving in to the space I'm using. And they haven't been in the least interested.

I'm critical of how our local police handle cycling. I'm openly and unashamedly critical. And I think I've had good reason to be. Some of the policing choices made here have been barking mad - operation Pedalo for example completely failed to deal with the major hazards to our safety - it was just the annual publicity-stunt crackdown given a funky name. And staking out places where there is no reason to believe that the cycle lane has ended should be treated as a national scandal. Our Conservative Police Commissioner is quite obviously a rabid cyclist hater with no concept that policing FOR cyclists might yield as great or greater gains than policing OF cyclists.

The evidence, to me at least, is clear enough. It may be the case that a lot of Cambridgeshire Constabulary are not opposed to cycling. It may even be true that many of them ride to work (as I was told on Friday). But I should think its also obvious to anyone paying attention that @cambscops are institutionally anti-cyclist. While I wholeheartedly welcome any suggestion that things are getting better, a decade of negativity can't be overcome with one event.

But I'm not one to wallow in negativity. No, really, I'm not. I'll view this as a new beginning - the years I've now spent saying 'Don't bother reporting that to Cambridge Police, you're a cyclist, my experience is they don't give a damn' are behind me, for now. Welcome to a world of actually reporting the criminals who endanger me. 

How do you think things will go?

1 comment:

  1. Ermmmm.... now I'm not a negative person either, but experience is a very harsh teacher. One of the lessons I've learnt through personal experience is that police simply do NOT give a stuff about cyclists.

    Realistically there are only two exceptions to that: a) when they target cyclists for the heinous crime of pavement cycling, or similar and b) when a cyclist was killed by a driver, they'll look for "contributory negligence" (which in itself is a form of victim-blaming).

    So you will forgive me for saying I believe your brave new start will soon flounder and that you'll rather rapidly find yourself being ignored, belittled or worse by the police.

    It is as you've said: they're institutionally anti-cyclist, and unless there is a big drive from the top to change that, with lots of time and resources being thrown at it, nothing will change at all.