Debate scheduled:Cyclists are a menace

thirdcrank
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Re: Debate scheduled:Cyclists are a menace

Postby thirdcrank » 4 Nov 2009, 9:47pm

On a semantic point, people are only charged in that sense when they have been arrested. (Belly to the counter, charge read out etc.) Once upon a time, that was either for relatively serious stuff or for things like drunk and disorderly where the arrest was to stop the conduct continuing. Paradoxically, as these things tend to happen at antisocial hours, the charging decisions were often taken by the sort of junior staff who end up working anti-social hours. Nowadays, nearly all charging is the prerogative of the CPS.

Summary offences, including most traffic matters have always been dealt with by a report for summons. In the case of a traffic 'accident' there would be some sort of investigation prior to a prosecution decision. Since at least the late 1970's, the police have been reducing their involvement in this. Prior to the formation of the CPS, a prosecution file would be honed and polished to satisfy the supervisory hierarchy before a decision by the superintendent (silver braid around neb) Different forces have different policies but around here, post CPS, the officer in the case would fill in an accident booklet and the inspector (black braid) would make a quick decision. Eventually, even the involvent of inspectors was largely removed.

After all that introductory waffle, the officer needs only to investigate a collision that fits within local guidelines. Even if the case is appropriate for an investigation, they need only submit a file that has apparently sufficient evidence in a case of sufficient gravity to make it likely that the CPS would prosecute. The system operates to drop cases, rather than pursue them. It seems to me that although the officer has not said it how I might, nowadays a case like yours is unlikely ever to go anywhere in terms of a prosecution, which amounts to the same thing. The CPS do the prosecuting but encourage the police to do the dropping.

reohn2
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Re: Debate scheduled:Cyclists are a menace

Postby reohn2 » 5 Nov 2009, 9:03am

What remains is the fact that people are disregarding the law because they know they can get away with it,as richardyorkshire's case shows.If enough of the didn't see you's (and a host of other criminal offences not just against cyclists) were prosicuted, pretty soon the word gets around that if you break the law it costs you and if you do it twice it cost you dearly then crime petty and serious will go down,as it is to quote the song "we are living in a gangsters paradise".
The worst of it is I can't see anything changing soon.
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richardyorkshire
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Re: Debate scheduled:Cyclists are a menace

Postby richardyorkshire » 5 Nov 2009, 7:52pm

What annoys me about the police officer's decision in my case, is that she is undermining the way the road traffic law is supposed to work.

The law, as laid down by parliament, is that minor traffic offences such as speeding, driving without due care, and so on should be prosecuted. The driver gets a few points on their licence. If they commit no further offences, the points eventually disappear. If they continue to commit offences, the points build up until they lose their licence.

As a system, it's a pretty well designed. It allows the law to nip bad driving in the bud before someone gets seriously injured or killed. It offers a mechanism to deal with people who persistently drive in a poor fashion.

But it only works if such offences are prosecuted.

Because the police are not pursuing such cases of relatively minor traffic offences, the whole system fails. The points system is designed to nudge people in the direction of good driving and away from bad driving. If prosecutions only follow in cases where someone is seriously injured or killed, then the points system cannot work. I think the police are effectively undermining the intentions of parliament and messing up a perfectly good system.
Wisest is he who knows that he knows nothing.

thirdcrank
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Re: Debate scheduled:Cyclists are a menace

Postby thirdcrank » 5 Nov 2009, 9:01pm

richardofyorkshire

Whatever your personal feelings, your explanation of how things should work is only one of many. Parliament passes many laws and the rate at which they do so has grown so quickly that now a lot of new legislation is not passed by Parliament at all, but rather issued in the form of Statutory Instruments, made under the authority of enabling legislation. If police officers took action against every offence they witnessed few would ever get more than a hundred yards from the police station. They have to use their discretion. The way they do that is inevitably the subject of disagreement, especially by those affected.

One part of that discretion was completely removed with the formation of the CPS. Before the CPS may prosecute their guidelines dictate the standard of evidence which must be available. At that stage they must apply the public interest test - a rather vague concept which allows them to drop all sorts of cases. http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs ... nglish.pdf They also have budgetary constraints so there is a natural tendency to prefer straight races. Only in the last few days the Lord Chief Justice has criticised the latest pronouncement about this by the DPP before he had even read it. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/b ... 884290.ece

Part of the reason for the formation of the CPS was to improve the standard of evidence, which inevitably means more investigation and better presentation (AKA paperwork.) It seems inevitable to me that once the police at every level see what the CPS requires, they will work towards that, rather than submitting files which will go nowhere. (I published a link to the CPS Guidelines on prosecuting traffic offences higher up the thread.)

The theoretical safeguard for anybody who does not like the police decision not to pursue a case is that they can mount a private prosecution (so long as there has not been a formal 'disposal' by the police such as an official caution.) In reality, the CPS guidelines require them to review any private prosecution that comes to their notice. Unless the circumstances are unusual, they should then take over the prosecution and either drop it if it does not meet their criteria or pursue it as a public prosecution if it does. (That is also on the CPS website somewhere.)

Another long thread with a short message.

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PS Probably the leading case onabout police discretion was R v Metropolitan Police (Ex parte Blackburn) 1968. Blackburn was an anti gaming capaigner who wanted more doing to stop it. Although the then Master of the Rolls waxed even more eloquently on the subject, this is a later summary of the judgment, with a comment.

"No minister of the Crown can tell [the Commissioner] that he must, or must not, keep observation on this place or that; or that he must, or must not, prosecute this man or that one. Nor can any police authority tell him so. The responsibility for law enforcement lies on him. He is answerable to the law and to the law alone."

It is also a clear expression not only of the chief officers' discretion but also that of the individual constable, he/she can be ordered to a particular site but could not be told to "Arrest that man!". That discretion to arrest is granted by statute and cannot be taken away by superior officers.

thekelticfringe
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Re: Debate scheduled:Cyclists are a menace

Postby thekelticfringe » 8 Nov 2009, 7:52am

richardyorkshire wrote:What annoys me about the police officer's decision in my case, is that she is undermining the way the road traffic law is supposed to work.

The law, as laid down by parliament, is that minor traffic offences such as speeding, driving without due care, and so on should be prosecuted. The driver gets a few points on their licence. If they commit no further offences, the points eventually disappear. If they continue to commit offences, the points build up until they lose their licence.

As a system, it's a pretty well designed. It allows the law to nip bad driving in the bud before someone gets seriously injured or killed. It offers a mechanism to deal with people who persistently drive in a poor fashion.

But it only works if such offences are prosecuted.


I got nicked, in my car, by a speed camera - it was a fair cop and I shouldn't have been speeding :oops: . My point is that I got the fine and the points for a behaviour that, although bad, did NOT cause an accident or damage anything, only risked doing so.

Contrast this with the story in this thread where someone has ACTUALLY been hurt and property damaged and IMO things are out of balance. There is 'zero tolerance' of speeding (as most penalties are enforced automatically) but not, it seems, of more serious traffic incidents.
Pedal faster, I hear banjos!

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anothereye
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Re: Debate scheduled:Cyclists are a menace

Postby anothereye » 8 Nov 2009, 11:16am

thekelticfringe wrote:I got nicked, in my car, by a speed camera - it was a fair cop and I shouldn't have been speeding :oops: . My point is that I got the fine and the points for a behaviour that, although bad, did NOT cause an accident or damage anything, only risked doing so.
Contrast this with the story in this thread where someone has ACTUALLY been hurt and property damaged and IMO things are out of balance. There is 'zero tolerance' of speeding (as most penalties are enforced automatically) but not, it seems, of more serious traffic incidents.
Careless and dangerous driving need to be prosecuted regardless of weather anyone is hurt or killed, if someone is driving badly they at least need to be cautioned; this way driving standards can be improved and the number of casualties are reduced.

thekelticfringe
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Re: Debate scheduled:Cyclists are a menace

Postby thekelticfringe » 8 Nov 2009, 1:17pm

Yeah - I agree, I'm not complaining about the speeding penalty - what I'm saying is that other areas of traffic laws need to be enforced as strictly, both for the general good and for fairness.
Pedal faster, I hear banjos!

reohn2
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Re: Debate scheduled:Cyclists are a menace

Postby reohn2 » 8 Nov 2009, 7:10pm

thekelticfringe wrote:Yeah - I agree, I'm not complaining about the speeding penalty - what I'm saying is that other areas of traffic laws need to be enforced as strictly, both for the general good and for fairness.


The problem is AFAI can see is that speeding is simples,camera,click! done,whereas due care and attention,dangerous driving,etc,unless theres a fatality or at least serious injury the police aren't interested,as TC pointed out the odds are stacked well in favour of the criminal,the "gangsters paradise" persists,the down ward spiral carries on and the real losers are the good guys,
And does anyone running the show give *x@% ? no, because it doesn't effect them, they can afford to live where criminals can't touch them,the statistics look good,crime is falling,didn't know?
Its known as cooking the books.
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