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 

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