Avon & Somerset Police

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
thirdcrank
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby thirdcrank » 13 Sep 2013, 2:01pm

Bearing in mind the importance attached to independent witnesses by the system, it's unfortunate that they are often treated so badly at every stage. It's no surprise to me that people decide that they "don't want to get involved." Of the few who do come forward, I suspect only a tiny fraction would do it a second time.

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661-Pete
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby 661-Pete » 13 Sep 2013, 2:33pm

thirdcrank wrote:Bearing in mind the importance attached to independent witnesses by the system, it's unfortunate that they are often treated so badly at every stage.
In what way do you mean? I wasn't talking about a witness being reduced to a gibbering wreck in court by an aggressive defence counsel in a rape case. Just a witness to a traffic case, making a police statement.
Suppose that this room is a lift. The support breaks and down we go with ever-increasing velocity.
Let us pass the time by performing physical experiments...
--- Arthur Eddington (creator of the Eddington Number).

thirdcrank
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby thirdcrank » 13 Sep 2013, 5:21pm

If anybody is reading this who has provided a witness statement, they will be in a better position than me to explain this.

The first problem for a witness, is that they are likely to be inconvenienced by the taking of their statement. This can be a particular issue with something like a run-of-the-mill accident, where the PC doing the investigating will probably be working shifts. Having provided the statement, they will then be in the dark. Eventually, they may get a court warning, or they may never hear anything again. Although they should have been asked about holiday dates, even if they have made clear when they will be away, the court date may well be bang in the middle. Their court appearance may well be cancelled at the last minute, or they may get there and find that for various reasons, eg last minute change to guilty plea, their journey was unnecessary.

If they are to give evidence, they will be cheek by jowl with defendants and defence witnesses. They will be fortunate if anybody knows what's happening and even more fortunate if anybody shares that info with them.

After the case, any expenses paid will be paltry, especially if they have lost substantially from attending, and they will often be made to feel like scroungers even for the pittance they receive.

There have been improvements over the years eg a witness's address, phone number and holiday dates (when their house can be burgled) no longer appear on the face of their statement, but if they do receive any anonymous threats, there's little to protect them. (There are witness protection schemes but they tend only to be available in really serious cases.)

In between all this, if they are called to give evidence, they will feel they are being treated as a liar (in spite of all the flummery) by somebody with soft hands, who will be in fancy dress in the more serious cases.

I'd like to think that nobody suffers everything I've listed, but I couldn't be sure.

snibgo
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby snibgo » 13 Sep 2013, 6:20pm

I've been a witness once, after a street assault on me.

It took 3 hours at the police station to describe the incident, which had only lasted about 10 minutes.

One chap pleaded guilty at his hearing, got banged up and that was that.

The other pleaded not guilty. The next three months were very stressful. I'm already a skinny bloke but I lost 5 kg. The police periodically sent me updates, and that was fine. At the trial, my evidence took 40 minutes. I'm not a great public speaker, and being treated as a liar and trying to explain my truth while not losing my rag or collapsing into jelly was probably the hardest thing I've done in my life, and certainly the most unpleasant. He was found not guilty.

There were plenty of things the police and court could have done to make the process less unpleasant, but I'm not sure they would have made much difference for me. It was deeply awful.

irc
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby irc » 13 Sep 2013, 6:34pm

At Glasgow Sheriff Court there are several courts running criminal cases. There are typically up to a dozen or more trials scheduled for each court. There isn't time to run more than a couple. So unless there are any last minute guilty pleas most of the other cases will be postponed. So the witnesses will have to turn up again. Two or three court dates for a case is common. Five or six court dates for one case isn't that unusual.

My father's garage got broken in to. If it happened again he wouldn't even report it. Not worth the hassle. I can't say I blame him.

Postboxer
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby Postboxer » 13 Sep 2013, 7:01pm

Yeah but don't worry crime figures show crime is falling! :roll:

Shootist
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Location: Derby

Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby Shootist » 13 Sep 2013, 9:57pm

LeRobot wrote:I asked the officer what I could possibly have done differently to have avoided being hit, and was told nothing at all, and that I was not at fault. However I was told the driver had said she'd looked and did not see me so turned across and the police concluded that there was no evidence to the contrary. My contention was that the driver must have overtaken me shortly before and that she could not possibly have looked properly as she would have seen a very significant front light behind her. Additionally 15-20ft further back on the pavement are 2 large prominent signs warning drivers of traffic on their inside including image representations of motorbikes, bicycles and taxis.


And there you have almost the exact definition of careless driving. She has two options. she didn't look because you were there, and had she looked, she would have seen you and would not have turned. Has she given her driving sufficient care, you would not have been hit. The alternative is that she saw you and turned anyway, which might be considered as attempted murder! The only possibly defence would be if there was bright sun dazzling her in her rear

It seems to me that the officer simply could not be bothered. It would be an interesting option to make a formal complaint of neglect of duty against the officer concerned. SMIDSY is not a valid defence to careless driving. A letter to the local rag, and your MP wouldn't go amiss either.
Pacifists cannot accept the statement "Those who 'abjure' violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.", despite it being "grossly obvious."
[George Orwell]

dalifnei
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby dalifnei » 15 Sep 2013, 1:12am

Interesting post, sorry to hear about your accident.

Firstly, on a practical basis, if there is any CCTV evidence, it won't likely be held for long. Ask the police if they can obtain it. Alternatively find a decent law firm - no win no fee compensation type perhaps - to start a claim now and press them to seek the CCTV footage without delay.

In terms of witnesses, there is a big difference in how they are treated between criminal and civil claims. But undoubtedly still an inconvenience.

I've often been puzzled about people's disapproval of no win no fee lawyers, who provide access to running a claim that injured people otherwise couldn't afford. (I am a solicitor by the way!). However I understand they way it all works in England and Wales is quite different from up here in Scotland.

Even if there is no criminal prosecution here, it sounds like you will have a decent civil claim - because the driver has been negligent. It is not about telephone number damages but realistic compensation for your injury and any losses you have.

thirdcrank
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby thirdcrank » 15 Sep 2013, 8:03am

dalifnei wrote: .... I've often been puzzled about people's disapproval of no win no fee lawyers, who provide access to running a claim that injured people otherwise couldn't afford. ...


Apart from a widespread but often unjustified mistrust of lawyers and professionals more generally, , they've done themselves few favours with their advertising, especially on daytime telly. I suspect that many people wouldn't know the difference between a proper law firm and a company of ambulance chasers getting paid for introducing clients, often with spurious claims, to real solicitors. eg The CTC legal helpline (which has been taken over by another firm whose name I'm too lazy to look up)) used to be provided by Russell Jones and Walker often trading as Claims Direct. Both the same leading firm, but one title suggests to me somebody with a brass plate on the door and the other doesn't.
=====================================================================
PS Forgot to include that I think there's a lot of misunderstanding about "no win, no fee" itself. Unfortunately, although the name was probably introduced for simplicity, it just makes it sound like a gold digger's charter. My understanding is that it was intended to get away from means-tested civil legal aid, which was only available to the relatively poor, but which was escalating because it only needed the lawyer to certify that there was an arguable case, whereas "no win, no fee" is available to anybody with a case which the lawyer judges to be likely to win, the burden here falling on the lawyers and their specialist insurers.

dalifnei
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby dalifnei » 15 Sep 2013, 10:36am

Thats an interesting comment, perhaps my view is different of that South of the border, where I understand things are much more competitive due to higher fees, which has attracted lots of claims management companies... the whole industry now has a rather tarnished name!

Insurance companies also continually all sorts of frauds by claimants, each one costing "hundreds of millions of pounds a year"... so people think that everybody who claims has made it up or is acting for the money... (until it happens to someone they know!).

LeRobot
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby LeRobot » 16 Sep 2013, 1:41pm

Hi all. Sorry not to reply earlier. Ironically both our cars conked out over the weekend and I was otherwise preoccupied .....

So anyway I have secured some cctv footage from a friendly local retailer although I have to say it's slightly inconclusive in that the crucial moment is obscured by a large truck. What is conclusive is that prior to the impact the traffic was free-flowing down the A4 so she must have passed me before side-swiping me. It is just possible to distinguish me being hit by the car and I was surprised just how far I'd managed to yank the front end round to try and mitigate the impact. The no-win no-fee rotweilers have said that they actually don't need the footage unless the other party denies liability which they are yet to do.

Anyway that's the least of my concerns. What vexes me is that theoretically I could be hit off at that point in exactly those circumstances every single day and yet have no recourse to the protection of the law, and that just doesn't seem equitable?? I've no particular issue with the driver - she seemed mortified bless her, and I've no complaint with the conduct of the officers at the scene but with their interpretation and application of the law.

karlt
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby karlt » 16 Sep 2013, 3:57pm

LeRobot wrote:Hi all. Sorry not to reply earlier. Ironically both our cars conked out over the weekend and I was otherwise preoccupied .....

So anyway I have secured some cctv footage from a friendly local retailer although I have to say it's slightly inconclusive in that the crucial moment is obscured by a large truck. What is conclusive is that prior to the impact the traffic was free-flowing down the A4 so she must have passed me before side-swiping me. It is just possible to distinguish me being hit by the car and I was surprised just how far I'd managed to yank the front end round to try and mitigate the impact. The no-win no-fee rotweilers have said that they actually don't need the footage unless the other party denies liability which they are yet to do.

Anyway that's the least of my concerns. What vexes me is that theoretically I could be hit off at that point in exactly those circumstances every single day and yet have no recourse to the protection of the law, and that just doesn't seem equitable?? I've no particular issue with the driver - she seemed mortified bless her, and I've no complaint with the conduct of the officers at the scene but with their interpretation and application of the law.


Well you do have the protection of the law - the civil law, which is there to ensure you receive compensation. "The law" =/= "criminal prosecution".

dalifnei
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Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby dalifnei » 16 Sep 2013, 3:59pm

There's no such thing as "justice"

Shootist
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Location: Derby

Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby Shootist » 16 Sep 2013, 4:13pm

LeRobot wrote:... and I've no complaint with the conduct of the officers at the scene but with their interpretation and application of the law.


The officers conduct at the scene is irrelevant. When you are neglecting your duty it is good politic to be very nice to the person that you are failing to the detriment of your position. At the very best, they were incompetent. If they were experienced officers, even though perhaps still in their probation, then, IMO, they knew they were flannelling you. Due care prosecutions were, in my day, a right PITA, requiring sketch plans and interviews. For some officers it's better to cuff it. They need a tightener.

Even if the officers were complying with policy, which I very much doubt, then by formally complaining you will register your displeasure at the policy as a matter of record, rather than some letter or other that can, and will, be ignored.

As for the offending driver being mortified, well, that's easy after the event. No doubt she would have been even more mortified had you died, but you would still have been dead. Her mortification is her problem. A bigger deterrent than mortification is a prosecution and points on her licence.
Pacifists cannot accept the statement "Those who 'abjure' violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.", despite it being "grossly obvious."
[George Orwell]

thirdcrank
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Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Avon & Somerset Police

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Sep 2013, 5:14pm

LeRobot

In circumstances like these, I always advise people to think about what outcome they are looking for. (I may even have already made this point upthread- if I have it's worth repeating.)

Among some possibilities, I'll offer these:-

1 Prosecution of the driver for a criminal offence.

2 A civil action to recover your losses and some compo for your injuries.

3 Disciplinary action against the police officer who attended.

4 A change in the level of priority the police service in general and your own force in particular gives, or rather doesn't give to road traffic collisions.

(You are not limited to one choice, of course. )

I've underlined what to me would be the top of the list. Most decent solicitors will offer a short initial interview free so that if your case is a no-hoper, you'll know immediately.

For the rest of my list, this is the UK in 2013 and I think your experience is typical. For no 1., write to your chief constable. For no 3, a complaint to the IPCC would be the first step. No 4 is the remit of your local police and crime commissioner.