"Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

thirdcrank
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby thirdcrank » 3 May 2013, 9:58am

You only need to watch a television news report to see that close ups / wide angles and all the rest of it can be carefully manipulated to give the producer's version - and that's all before any editing of the actual footage.

The integrity of all evidence has to be considered and that's just as true of video evidence as it is of anyhting else.

Having said that, a fixed focus helmet cam or a camera mounted on a bike hardly gives much scope for jiggery pokery. OTOH, it may reveal things potentially helpful to the defence. Perhaps the biggest benefit to the cameraman is that they can pick and choose what they report or publish: their own embarrassing moments can be quietly overlooked.

Bear in mind that with any prosecution, evidence is disclosed in advance to the defence.

EnquiringMind
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby EnquiringMind » 3 May 2013, 10:07am

I think it strongly depends on what the camera is being used to claim. For instance, it's hard to judge distance with any camera that doesn't include both road users in its field of view (i.e. junction CCTV), so I'd be loath to use it to claim anyone cut me up unless I hit or had to obviously fend off the vehicle.

On the other hand, use of a mobile or a clear infraction such as failure to stop at a stop line or driving through a red light is pretty much open and shut...

Geriatrix
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby Geriatrix » 3 May 2013, 10:16am

iviehoff wrote:There is an important difference, and that is who was in control of capturing of the image. When the person in control of capturing of the image is a person involved in the case, the issue of admissibility of the evidence does have to be taken seriously, because in principle the person in charge of capturing the image has the power to be selective about what is recorded, or to frame it in a particular way. I think it is correct that whenever the image is captured by a participant in the incident, that proper consideration is given to whether what we see is a reliably neutral record. It should also be routine to check it hasn't been tampered with, whoever recorded it.

It is true that a YouTube clip can give a selective view of the incident which is why in a court it should be the unedited clip that is used as evidence. The cyclist has no real ability to be selective about the footage he captures, especially if he is trying to avoid a collision. If it's on the helmet it captures what he is looking at. If it's on the bike it captures where it is pointing - usually where the bike is going or a rear view of where the bike has been.


Camera evidence is a double edged sword, the cyclists behaviour is exposed to critical scrutiny as much as the drivers.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

EnquiringMind
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby EnquiringMind » 3 May 2013, 10:24am

^ that's a big advantage of camera use in my opinion.

There's long been a strange undercurrent that people who buy dashcams to fit to their car, or headcams for their helmet are somehow going out to manufacture collisions and conflict.

Although I agree that there's probably quite an interesting social psychology paper or two to be written about what people choose to upload to YouTube and how they present it, a growing number of pretty mundane people have cameras (no insult intended!) - apparently sales are soaring.

In my case, I know for certain that recording myself has rounded off more than a few rough edges (on the bike and in the car).

I linked to the camera I use from the article in the OP. At around 2.5 tanks of fuel I can understand that it's not the cheapest investment, but I compare with the value of our no claims bonus and justify it easily that way (with the bike as a welcome bonus).

Geriatrix
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby Geriatrix » 3 May 2013, 10:28am

EnquiringMind wrote:In my case, I know for certain that recording myself has rounded off a few rough edges (on the bike and in the car).

+1
And if you don't spot your own fault's you can be guaranteed that other cyclist's on YouTube will.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

EnquiringMind
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby EnquiringMind » 4 May 2013, 7:25am

FYI - I linked up a review of my video camera in the reviews forum after a few people asked me for a recommendation...

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Phil_Lee
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby Phil_Lee » 3 Jun 2013, 12:00am

thirdcrank wrote:I don't know the carry on in Scotland, especially since there's now a single police force, but in E&W the ACPO line is still significant.

Here's the contentious bit:

... However I found myself unable to understand, still less agree with, his view that action could only be taken against a motorist who had endangered (rather than actually run down) a cyclist if the careless (or dangerous) driving had been witnessed by a police officer. It is almost as odd as Ms Davenport of ACPO's assertion that she had legal advice that criminal proceedings based upon video evidence were unlikely to succeed. (My emphasis)


http://thecyclingsilk.blogspot.co.uk/20 ... group.html

Suzette Davenport, who has recently transferred on promotion to chief constable from Northants to Gloucestershire, is the ACP0 lead on Roads Policing. Whether she is right or wrong isn't really the point: what she says is likely to influence traffic policing throughout E&W. IMO, it needs clarification.


If ACPO is actively suppressing evidence, are they not conspiring to pervert the course of justice?
Suzette Davenport should be a bit careful on that - even being a member of parliament is not sufficient to protect one's liberty in the face of such serious charges. She may find a conviction (or even any substantial allegation) on such a crime just a bit career limiting in her chosen field.

Geriatrix
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby Geriatrix » 3 Jun 2013, 6:57am

Phil_Lee wrote:If ACPO is actively suppressing evidence, are they not conspiring to pervert the course of justice?

ACPO isn't suppressing evidence, just choosing not to use if it is not supported by other evidence. I'm sure that TC will probably correct me on that as well because I'm not sure what direct influence ACPO has on what evidence does or does not get used.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

thirdcrank
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby thirdcrank » 3 Jun 2013, 9:52am

I've assumed all along that the reported comment from Ms Davenport involved crossed wires. To suggest that camcorder footage hasn't good evidential value is nonsense. Perhaps she meant that footage on its own had little value, which is an important point that many seem to miss. What really baffles and concerns me is that nobody seems to have made any attempt to clear it up at the time or afterwards. There were very senior legal eagles on the panel of parliamentarians and top cycle campaigners in the form of the CTC.

Richard D
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby Richard D » 14 Jun 2013, 2:16pm

FWIW (and lest any more misinformation be spread, like that from Ms. Davenport), whilst there may be formalities that need to be complied with (such as providing a copy of the footage to the other side), and whilst it *might* be possible for someone to argue that video evidence should not be admitted in a particular case, I know and can confidently state (practicing in both crime and civil, in all levels of the courts in England and Wales) that video evidence gathered from these sort of cameras can be used - and should be used - whenever available.

In fact, prosecutors in particular tend to alight on video evidence with glee, because if a picture is worth a thousand words, camera footage of an incident is worth at least as much as a couple of dozen eye witnesses (with all of their frailties and fallibilities). That's one of the main points that has driven the introduction of so many CCTV cameras around our towns and cities; sorting put a Fridaynight punch-up is a nightmare when you have only the words of the participants and a few boozed-up hangers-on. But when you have clear, high-def moving pictures of what happened, the right people gettheirjust desserts more often than not.

As for ACPO, their only say is in how cases get investigated and fed into the system; the choice as to what evidence to present (and even more so, what actually constitutes evidence) is not a matter for them, outside of a few edge cases (like when smart-Alec defence lawyers banging on about ACPO guidance on the use of, say, hand-held speed measurement devices).

I've just bought a camera largely in case it's ever needed to give my next-of-kin something to use in the event of a motorist doing something stupid which leaves them without me. I regard it as a form of - hopefully never used - insurance. In the same way in which I wear a helmet solely because it might prevent a judge reducing a payout to which they would otherwise be entitled on the grounds that I hadn't worn one (and there have been such instances).

thirdcrank
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby thirdcrank » 20 Jun 2013, 10:07am

I wonder if there is any hope that somebody with a bit of standing in the debate will take up the issue of the admissibility in evidence of helmet camera footage. :?: If something is going on behind the scenes, it's being kept very secret.

At one stage, I was thinking along the lines of somebody asking Ms Davenport herself for clarification, but I fear that may be waste of time. As I've posted before, either on this thread or the other on this subject, the first-line authority on prosecution evidence must be the CPS. It's hardly unreasonable that they should be requested to provide clarification and that it should be included in their guidelines.

That wouldn't completely resolve the matter, by any means, because the CPS can only prosecute cases submitted to them and that's normally by the police. In general terms, the police service is going to toe the ACPO line. The point, however, is that when Ms Davenport was pressed at the All Party Cycling Group charade (sorry Commission :lol: ) the was able avoid making any commitment about investigating reports corroborated by camcorder footage by questioning its evidential value.

FWIW, I think a direct approach to the DPP would be appropriate. Kier Starmer is already on the way out - indeed he may have already moved on - but he seems a good a target as anybody.

If the CTC hasn't chased this up already, and in the absence of any comment on here I fear they have not, then I cannot see them acting now. I first heard about this mix-up on the Cycling Silk blog. Perhaps Martin Porter might give it a go. :?:

... Ms Davenport of ACPO's assertion that she had legal advice that criminal proceedings based upon video evidence were unlikely to succeed. ...


http://thecyclingsilk.blogspot.co.uk/20 ... group.html

I would have written a couple of letters myself on the subject but when writing to public officials such as a chief constable or the DPP, unless you have some official status the best you can hope for is a brush-off from a junior sub-underling before it's filed in the WPB

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horizon
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby horizon » 20 Jun 2013, 10:35am

(I apologise if this is going off at a tangent and I must declare at the outset zero professional knowledge.)

My impression (and it is only that) is that the problem is not around the admissibility of evidence as such. The problem is around the amount of available evidence in relation to the importance of the crime. That is to say, the police may feel themselves likely to be overwhelmed by a huge volume of incontrovertible evidence related to crimes that they themselves consider unimportant and not worth prosecuting. To say publicly however that low level (or indeed higher level) intimidation isn't worth prosecuting would be socially and politically unacceptable (though probably more acceptable than the police are prepared to admit). The alternative is simply to question the acceptability of the evidence and, at a stroke, remove hours of police work, hundreds of potential prosecutions and conflict with the local commissioner who will doubtless represent the motoring interest.

I don't see that this is any different from the issue of speed cameras. When it was realised that hidden cameras would indeed prevent speeding and lead to the rightful prosecution of thousands of motorists, hidden cameras were banned and the remaining ones given a hi-viz jacket.

My own feeling about this is that the motoring class is in the ascendancy and any threat to its freedoms will be removed at once. That leaves cyclists with thousands of potentially useless video clips. Are they still useful? Well, yes I think so, for example by presenting them to employers. It’s not quite justice but it is still a weapon in the hands of those who wish to challenge intimidation and bad driving.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

thirdcrank
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby thirdcrank » 20 Jun 2013, 10:54am

horizon wrote:(I apologise if this is going off at a tangent and I must declare at the outset zero professional knowledge. ...


It's not a tangent, but the issue I'm trying to deal with is the admissibility of evidence. Over the years, riders reporting bad driving have been met with the explanation that independent witnesses are necessary for a prosecution. (That's not a legal requirement, of course, but an important ingredient of a strong prosecution case.) With the advent of the availability of corroboration through helmet camera footage and the like, riders reporting bad driving have met other obstacles.

Deciding which type of case to concentrate on is an operational matter for the police, subject to national and local priorities and, more recently, the relevant Police and Crime Commissioner. Before prosecuting a case, the CPS is required to consider two tests: one is the strength of the evidence (which is what I'm banging on about here) and the other is the matter of public interest.

I'm suggesting that the rules of evidence are being misused as an excuse for fobbing off riders who make complaints of bad driving. If the police consider that reports of bad driving are not worth the effort involved, or the CPS feels that the public interest is not served by pursuing bad driving cases, let them say so.

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horizon
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby horizon » 20 Jun 2013, 12:13pm

thirdcrank wrote:
I'm suggesting that the rules of evidence are being misused as an excuse for fobbing off riders who make complaints of bad driving. If the police consider that reports of bad driving are not worth the effort involved, or the CPS feels that the public interest is not served by pursuing bad driving cases, let them say so.


Exactly. My post simply added the fact that you've convinced me - it's nothing to do with the quality of the evidence as such. My other addition is that all is not lost and the police may in fact by public outcry be forced occasionally to act - it is the fact that this evidence is so easily made public that makes it valuable*.

*You have to admit, I'm quite an optimist.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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meic
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Re: "Cyclists use cameras to capture dangerous drivers"

Postby meic » 20 Jun 2013, 12:23pm

There is talk on the Radio (Radio 4 news, so it could be utter codswollop ) that we will be able to challenge the CPS whenever it fails to prosecute a case.

Has anybody seen any more details about this new initiative/gimmick/aspiration/chimera?
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