Police use dash-cam footage to prosecute drivers

By Nick Wagstaff
News entry dated 07th Jun 2017

As part of Operation Snap from October 2016 onwards, North Wales Police has been accepting dash cam, helmet cam and mobile phone footage from the public. Of the 100 clips submitted, 80 have led to driving convictions, in some cases leading to prison time for some drivers caught out by this new approach.

It comes at a time when there are 27% fewer traffic police on Britain’s roads than 2010, according to Home Office data. With the UK’s roads becoming increasingly lawless places to drive and with fewer police on the roads due to government cuts, the installation of a dash cam is a great way to protect a driver from false accident claims, with some insurers also offering 20% discounts on policies if you have a dash cam installed.

Dash cams as a video witness

But it seems that an interesting by product of dash cams is that they can also act as additional eyes and ears on the roads for the police, Operation Snap has proved such a success that other police forces across the country are looking at rolling out something similar in their own regions.

In a recent article from Auto Express, North Wales Police figured out that it took 15 hours of police time per incident to process and prosecute for each driving offence if a traffic police office caught someone in person. As camera footage is now being treated as an eye witness account of a driving offence, the amount of time to deliver a process and prosecute a penalty has tumbled to less than an hour.

The process of uploading the clips takes minutes and is very easy. Public generated video footage for driving offences is now accepted in court as evidence and covers a range of areas such as driving without due care and attention, dangerous driving, using a mobile phone at the wheel, improper control of vehicle and running red lights or contravening other traffic systems, such red line zones and bus lanes.

“The operation will enable our communities to help us assist in a key policing priority, to continue to keep the roads of South Wales safe. Our officers will still be policing the roads in our force area 24 hours a day, 7 days a week but we know that members of the public are keen to help, and I am pleased that with the support of Go Safe, we can provide an easier way to submit footage and images either whilst travelling as a passenger, or using the footage of dash cams that can submitted later when the driver has finished their journey.”

Jeremy Vaughan, Assistant Chief Constable of South Wales Police

Is this the future of traffic policing?

Only 2 penalties from 80 issued have been appealed thus far, as the power of video evidence is almost impossible to deny. Capturing offenders is a good thing and will perhaps make some drivers think twice about offending knowing a dash cam might be recording even if the police are not there.

However, using video footage as evidence of traffic offences is fine to an extent but it fails to hide what seems to be a bigger concern, that is a large decline in traffic police due to Government austerity measures. We told you in an article 2 months ago about how we think that Britain’s roads are becoming more binary. On the major arterial routes, they are becoming heavily monitored with cameras and ANPR every mile using “smart motorways” and then the clear majority is becoming more lawless and dangerous places to drive than ever before.

As the police pull away from the front line, is the concept of “crowd-sourced police intelligence” using dash cams the future of policing? Are dash cams going to be made compulsory for all drivers and would it be a law that all drivers must allow police access to that video evidence or face prosecution themselves? It sounds like something out of a sci fi novel but the way it’s going it could be a reality within 10 years.

Do you think this is a great way to support the Police on Britain’s roads or a sad indictment of the current state of the Police caused by years of Government cuts? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit – Pixabay 

Comments

30 Comments on "Police use dash-cam footage to prosecute drivers"

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Guy
Guy

It’s terrifying to see how dangerous our roads have become since police forces have been cut back since 2008. Rural and urban roads alike have become akin to the Wild West. If our only protection is a dash cam I think that’s a very unsatisfactory state of affairs. How does this protect children crossing the road for example? It doesn’t! The only solution I see is to spend more on good old fashion traffic cops to get back to policing our roads, and we should be telling our politicians and councils exactly that!

Brian
Brian

Cuts to police budgets started after 2010 when the Tories came into power. They said they would control illegal immigration and deport more people but they then cut the budget for the UK Border Force. When the type of crime is changing we need more resources not less.

David Thompson
David Thompson

Sounds a little bit like how the Gestapo ran ’30s Germany. What a lovely society it’ll be if this ideology takes hold. To misquote, but retain the essence of Benjamin Franklin, “If you sacrifice liberty for security, you deserve neither.” I suppose it does depend to a certain degree on the severity of the “offence” in question. Although it’s easy to ascertain from some of the jobsworth comments from “expert” drivers and barrack-room-lawyers, that this wouldn’t be the case.

Anthony White
Anthony White
Dashcam evidence? – Good if it is used and presented properly with the time leading up to the alleged offence all included. Police Cuts? Preferably not, but where does the money come from to pay the police? Out of our pockets. If the police get more then either we pay more or someone else gets less. No-one I know likes austerity, but books have to be balanced or debt becomes too much to service. We have perhaps, for too long, paid the government to pay others to do things we could be doing ourselves. Do the police need our help… Read more »
Terry Hudson
Terry Hudson
Dash cam footage cannot be edited to suit the accuser? Me thinks not. You might see one incident, but is that the whole story? Say somebody hogging the outside lane of a motorway and you undertake them, all they show the police is the undertake, not the miles you have followed them trying to get past. Cyclists deliberately holding you up, cycling all over the road, but all is shown is the confrontation when the driver stops and gets angry.. Aren’t you supposed to put up signs on property along with councils in open spaces, to show you have CCTV,… Read more »
Tony Lewis
Tony Lewis
I have occasionally submitted my video evidence to Surrey police, resulting in prosecutions or attendance at training events. However, it is such a palaver to submit it (has to be on aCD or similar, together with a hard copy of the submission form, that I often don’t bother! Also, on occasion I have sent an online version followed up by hard-copy, onlyto find that the hard copy evidence has got lost in theior system somewhere! If they would accept an online submission of the footage and the form, as an immediate and verifiable evidence, I would send a lot more… Read more »
Steven Halkerston
Steven Halkerston
We have a local problem with works vans that are constantly parked on the pavement by one neighbour (he has parking for around six vehicles on his drive and house frontage). Trivial one might think – think on, a vital line of sight is blocked when needing to turn right out of our property on to a road carrying circa 23k vehicles a day. The road has a 30mph limit but that is all to often ignored and certainly as you get into the evening time 45-50 mph is more like the norm plus the maniacal racing community that use… Read more »
David Myers
David Myers

To Val Brooks
A good driver IS watching all other motorists, so as to be aware of everything going on all around and, therefore, being able to react to any situation. Thus, any illegal or dangerous act would be seen.

Michael Oldman
Michael Oldman
A dash cam is not really video footage shot by the public; It is CCTV footage from a camera that is mounted in a private vehicle. I am not sure what triggers it to start recording, but I think they record continuously and overwrite when the memory is full. The only driver action needed is to save the previous (preset time say 5 minutes) from overwriting if the memory is not large enough to cover the rest of the journey. So it is no different in essence from a camera in a bar that records a fight or in a… Read more »
Alex Leishman
Alex Leishman

To Val & Clive…the use of mobile phone footage refers to any passengers in the car. Obviously a driver shouldn’t (or wouldn’t!) attempt to film from a mobile whilst driving……or then again..!

John Rigby
John Rigby
Val Brooks, The reference made to ‘mobile phone footage’ is probably referring to footage that is mentioned later in the article taken by passengers within the vehicle (or maybe even pedestrians). Quote: “….we can provide an easier way to submit footage and images either whilst travelling as a passenger, or using the footage of dash cams that can submitted later when the driver has finished their journey.” However, I do think the danger here is, as Richard McDonald stated, we could end up “a bit 1984”.. I have no objections to such footage being submitted and used as a ‘witness’… Read more »
John Penny
John Penny
Some interesting comments here. I note that someone has posted that it takes 15 hours of Police time to prosecute. This has bugged me for some time, as if one is doing a little over the speed limit and is caught (even though driving safely) it is prima facae evidence, where as dangerous, careless, due care, etc all have to be ‘proved’. We are continually pounded with the ‘speed kills’ statement, when in fact it’s ‘Inappropriate speed’ If speed alone was the problem (it’s inattentiveness really) then M-ways would be one linear heap of wreckage. Not wishing to spark another… Read more »
Nigel S
Nigel S
Thats odd, North Wales police told me a few weeks ago that dashcam speed recoding is not allowable as evidence in a court of law. I sent them a video of an articulated lorry being driven aggressively at speeds up to 70MPH. When I told them that in my opinion they pick on the private motorist as we just take it on the chin whereas the truckers have the Road Haulage Assocation to fund legal cases for their members and have the ability to lobby parliament. If anyone gets done by North Wales police using dashcam evidence I will be… Read more »
Paul Kipling
Paul Kipling
I recently complained to and submitted dashcam footage to Cumbria Police after one of their own officers pulled a dangerous move in front of me on the A689. The driver, who was confirmed to be a police officer, has been put on a 3 week advanced driving course to improve their skills. The complaint was taken quite seriously by the Professional Standards Department which is great and I think the officer will really benefit from the training. Any effort to rid or correct dangerous and careless driving on our roads can only be a good thing. I don’t think dashcams… Read more »
John Ballinger
John Ballinger

I sent dash cam video footage to Warwickshire police of an 8 wheel tipper that overtook me when I stopped at red lights on a junction above the M40. The Reg number and time and date are clearly visible.

This was about two months ago – reaction from Warwickshire police- Zilch! Not even an acknowledgement.

Why did I bother?

Alan Bayly
Alan Bayly

About two years ago, I had a very near miss in Herefordshire with an overtaking car. I sent the police a report and the very clear dashcam footage. They wouldn’t take any action as they said incidents have to be reported within a fortnight, and I just missed the deadline. Part of the delay was because my local police station was then unmanned and I had to make a 50-mile round trip to collect the forms from elsewhere. The fortnight rule may vary from one police force to another, but it is something to bear in mind.

Val Brooks
Val Brooks

To: Clive Read,

I have re-read the article and I quote: “….. North Wales Police has been accepting dash cam, helmet cam and ‘mobile phone’ footage from the public. ….. ”

I agree it is a good thing but I still wonder how safe it is for other drivers if people are watching drivers in their cars to see what they are doing, which they must do if they spot a criminal act, which could be deemed a lack of concentration. As I stated, it’s just a thought!

Paul Kipling
Paul Kipling
The key thing to remember as a driver, is your attention to the road must always come first. Obviously, if you yourself are driving, you can’t use a mobile phone to record what is going on in front of you (unless it has a dashcam app running and is mounted in the same way a typical dashcam would be). Dashcams (and the mobile phone dashcam apps) require no driver intervention at all as they record constantly from when the engine starts (some cams record while parked too). A passenger could record with anything they had to hand. The driver may… Read more »
Clive Read
Clive Read

To Val Brooks. If you re-read the article you will find we are talking about dashboard or helmet mounted DASHCAMS, It has nothing whatsoever to do with mobile phone cameras.

I’m all for it. If drivers, or pedestrians choose to break the law then they must accept that any footage capturing them doing so is entirely at their own risk and choice.

roger denham
roger denham
I am an ex longhaul truck driver, now retired, not because of ill health but due to the fact that I do not wish to be involved in an accident which would cause death or serious injury to another road user. When you drive a vehicle of 44 tonnes and drivers, including other truck drivers, who will do anything to get in front of a truck only to have to brake hard to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of me and trying to squeeze into the safe gap I may have left from the vehicle in front of me.… Read more »
Stuart Dobbie
Stuart Dobbie
I disagree that the police cuts have led to fewer police on the streets. The numbers quoted do not include Community Support Officers who do not have real powers but still cost a lot of money. The real problem is the senior officers not wanting the police out on patrol. When there is an incident suddenly lots of vehicles and police turn up. Video evidence on its own is not going to stop criminals, illegal drivers or uninsured drivers, only police patrols will do that and also improve road safety. Drivers are aware they are very unlucky to get stopped… Read more »
frances robb
frances robb

Really confused.
Head lines North Wales
Excerpt. South Wales. ASCO North Wales
Article. South Wales. ASCO South Wales

Is it North Or South Wales?

Adrian Cowie
Adrian Cowie
If dash-cam evidence helps lead to safer driving, then I believe it is a good thing. A dash-cam typically fits just below & behind the driver’s mirror and should be set up to blank out the screen whist driving. It is illegal to watch video footage whilst driving! I was recently involved in an accident, which was entirely the other party’s fault & was able to show my insurance company that the other party was entirely to blame. Whilst HD video footage was too large to email to them, I uploaded the video to YouTube & sent them the link.… Read more »
Val Brooks
Val Brooks
We are taught to concentrate on the road one hundred per cent whilst driving thus, it is an offence to use a mobile phone with the car engine turned on and not safely parked, eat or drink whilst driving or, in some cases, smoke whilst driving. How then, can one be concentrating on their driving if one is taking pictures on a mobile phone of another driver using a mobile phone, perhaps on a motorway or, recording other drivers committing driving offences. Are we speaking about other drivers recording offences on roads whilst driving because I’m curious as to how… Read more »
Michael Nelson
Michael Nelson
It seems to be manta of the moment ‘all the police cuts’. As if all we need is more police on the streets and all our problems will be solved. I work for a police force and yes I have seen drastic cuts. But it has forced us to think of new ways to do the job. Simply putting more traffic cars on the roads is not going to solve the problems. Cars have to be refuelled. Maintained, the software and data uploaded and updated on at least a daily basis. It all takes time. However CCTV cameras have no… Read more »
Guy Blanchard
Guy Blanchard

So is this North or South wales?

Excerpt:

“The operation will enable our communities to help us assist in a key policing priority, to continue to keep the roads of South Wales safe.. .”

James Vaughan, Assistant Chief Constable of North Wales Police

Paul Butterwick
Paul Butterwick
If taking video of illegal drivers is the answer to the continuing demise of driving standards in this country, then I say, yes. But it must be done legally too. Where I live, nearby lights are a magnet for drivers to totally ignore the red stop signal, I am a driver, but walk to my local shops,and have nearly been hit by drivers going through red lights as I am about to step on to the road crossing. So I would really welcome any safe video evidence to prosecute. Safe driving is a must for everyone. Simple cure, set off… Read more »
Richard McDonald
Richard McDonald
With cuts of over 20,000 police (thank you Mrs. May) we are being asked to do the police’s job for them. Although this shouldn’t be needed, it’s possibly the only way to catch criminal drivers using phones etc. Is this what the Tory’s want, DIY policing? All a bit 1984, citizens grassing up citizens. It’s about time the police became more visible again, that’s where the real deterrent lies. Since when has eye witness evidence from the public been of any use, I witnessed a bin lorry smash into railings outside my home when I reported it to the police… Read more »
Anthony White
Anthony White
Behaviour in society is our job – the police, social services etc are there to help us to have a fair and just society. It is not THEIR job, but OURS. If we say it is their job, then we have to be willing to pay for what we want, this means higher taxes or increasing the national debt. Increase the debt too much and the economy will be unable to service it and will eventually collapse and we will still have the debt to pay off. Do we want higher taxes? No! So we have decisions to make …… Read more »
Richard McDonald
Richard McDonald

Once upon a time we had an effective police force, and people respected the law. To start asking the public to do the policing themselves is an insult, we pay a large proportion of our council tax to pay for policing and we are getting not very much in return.

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