The use of dash cam footage has already been successful in Wales
Staffordshire has its fair share of bad drivers, just like any region. But should more be done by the local constabulary to capture the offenders?
A new initiative over the border in Wales could hold the answers. About 60 cases of dangerous and bad driving caught on people’s dashboard cameras and mobile phones have been dealt with by North Wales Police since a clampdown began four months ago.
The force wanted to encourage motorists to share the footage of ludicrous driving with the correct authorities rather than with the masses on Facebook.
Driving instructors in Staffordshire have welcomed the move and believe it could prove useful if taken up in this county too.
Chris Bloor, a driving instructor from Tean, said: “It’s a brilliant idea. I think all new cars in production should come with a dash camera. You get sat navs built into cars, so why not dash cameras?
“Having footage definitely helps and, if there’s going to be someone at the police looking at them and taking action, then it’s brilliant idea. You do see some crazy drivers on the road.
“I also think insurance companies will start asking for cameras because it can certainly help if you are in an accident.”
Rob Matthews runs Bat Out Of L driving school and oversees the Stoke-on-Trent Approved Driving Instructors group.
He said: “It’s been working in Wales for some time now and I have been contacting Staffordshire Police about them introducing the idea here.
“I think it will work, as long as it’s done properly and people are not just reporting every minor thing they see, but do report the serious incidents of bad driving.
“It should be an optional extra in cars. They are not that expensive now.
“I do support the use of dash cams to catch bad drivers and, hopefully, the knowledge that you might get caught out will stop people doing stupid things.”
Should the police accept dash cam footage?
Police officers in Staffordshire also believe the scheme has the potential to help.
Keith Jervis, chairman of Staffordshire Police Federation, said: “I have been made aware that North Wales Police are running Operation ‘Snap’, encouraging drivers to submit dash cam footage of bad driving for consideration.
“Speaking from a policing perspective, visually recorded footage is generally considered best evidence, hence our frontline officers are equipped with body worn video. Some of our police vehicles are fitted with recording equipment.
“Clear video footage has far more impact than a witness’s ‘best recollection’ in the form of a written witness statement.
“For many years now, police have used video and CCTV footage to trace and identify offenders. And we see almost daily in the media how it provides irrefutable evidence to show offences and crimes in progress and the offenders who commit them.”
Keith says police see ‘all examples of bad driving’ in their years on the job.
“Even though the punishment for using a mobile phone has increased, we still see drivers using hand-held mobile phones, even texting while driving,” he added.
“We need to have that sense of social responsibility and do the right thing. The driver who is driving badly or texting while driving today could be the one who collides with our son, daughter, mother or father tomorrow. We all want our roads and communities to be safe places to live, work and drive.
“From a police evidence point of view, it will be necessary to show how and where the dash cam or visually recorded evidence was obtained, should it be needed to prosecute an offender.”
The scheme seems to have been a success with the police across the border.
Inspector Dave Cust, of North Wales Police’s roads policing unit, said Operation Snap has saved police about 12 hours’ work per case as investigating an allegation of bad driving could take up a lot of resources.
He added footage could be used to prove innocence as well as guilt.
“There was a woman who went through a green light and hit a car. Two members of the public said she went through a red light and she was going too fast. The camera proved differently. It’s proper, reliable evidence.”