Meeting the South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner (SYPCC)

Meeting the South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner (SYPCC)

Report from Mick Nott

I, with my CycleSheffield Chair hat on, went to a surgery appt with the SYPCC (http://www.southyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/Home.aspx) on Friday 14 September.

I met with the PCC, Shaun Wright and his PA, Tracy Webster.

We had already flagged our concerns in an earlier email, which is towards the end of this post.

Outcomes of the meeting

I think the PCC has agreed to take our concerns to discuss with a senior officer or officers and he is to suggest that SYP meet with us to discuss cycling matters in general.

CycleSheffield’s hope is that we can become engaged with SYP in a positive and progressive manner on matters to do with cycling in Sheffield.

We feel at present there is no coherence if we try to deal with general matters through particular incidents with separate officers.

CycleSheffield is concerned about

  • police advice wrt reporting of harassment of cyclists that has dismissive responses from some police officers

  • police abuse of cycle facilities (which I know has been addressed but the example we provide does stick out a mile)

  • police advice on road developments which we think show out of date attitudes towards how users should share roads and lack of specific training

  • police responses (as reported in the press) to hit and runs which stresses what the victims should do and not concentrating on what the perpetrators of these crimes should do

and we made a plea for SYP to take a systematic interest in the Council’s CycleForum so they can attend if needs be and certainly keep abreast of what issues are current.  And SYP could even add their own issues & concerns.

The meeting was cordial; both Shaun and Tracy were attentive to our points and sympathetic with our concerns.

I am confident that CycleSheffield will be able to develop this initiative.

Mick

Chair, CycleSheffield

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Mick Nott

Date: 23 May 2013 15:20

Subject: Re: Issues to do with cycling – Request for Surgery Appointment (1094)

To: Dinah Tindall

Dear Ms Tindall

Thanks for getting back to me and apologies for the delay in my response.

I was taking some time to consult members of CycleSheffield

The reason for the appointment is to discuss SYP and its policies and attitudes to cycling and cyclists.

Here are some examples:

Police attitudes to harassment of cyclists: We have talked with officers from Safer Neighbourhood teams and their advice is to to report incidents where cyclists are harassed on the road including near misses using the 101 number.  However our experience is that the consequent responses from PCs who pick up these reports are dismissive.  We understand that 101 data is aggregated and used by SNT to identify issues to target so we are confused by encouraging advice and discouraging responses.

Police attitudes to cycle facilities: We have reported to local police obstruction of a segregated cycle path on Asline Rd and police officers have promised to get back to the cyclists making the reports on consequent actions or follow-up.  This has not happened.  In addition police officers direct football coaches to park on this segregated cycle path when SUFC are at home.  We think this just encourages others to use the cycle path as a car park.  We have asked SUFC about this and they say they have forwarded our emails to the police who, in turn, have told SUFC they are following this issue up with the Council.  Nobody in the Council seems to know about this police initiative.  Nobody has got back to us even though our emails contain our contact details.

Another example where we had more success was our reports via 101 about police vans parking in the contraflow cycle lane on Castle St opposite the Snig Hill police station.  A police sergeant did get back to us about this and she did instruct officers not to do it.  However officers carried on doing it and our photos of these incidents, reported on a blog, made the Star.  Since their publication the obstructive parking by police on this cycle lane has stopped.

Police advice on road design:  The junction of Minna Rd (side road) with Burngreave Rd (main road) has recently been redesigned.  The police comments were: We believe that the inclusion of a short section of cycle lane across the mouth of the junction which ends at the rear of the bus stop, could result in cyclists coming into conflict with vehicles as they pull out to re-join traffic.  I believe the thinking behind this short section which does not join any existing facility was to make it safer for cyclist to cross the junction, but as you are closing the junction down and taking out the slip road, I believe this already reduces any existing risk there was to pedal cyclists, and there does not appear to have been any incidents in this area to justify this.

We ask you to note that the officer writing this believes that cyclists (on the main road) will come into conflict with vehicles (coming out of the main side road).  We think the premiss of the situation is that cyclists on the main road have right of way and drivers of vehicles coming out of the side road are obliged to give way to all traffic on the main road, i.e. vehicles come into conflict with cyclists.  Our advice was contrary to the officer’s as we believe that a cycle lane would provide some infrastructural support for cyclists cycling up hill whilst having to negotiate a route with traffic both overtaking and waiting to come across the give way lines.

Police not participating in democratic meetings: Sheffield City Council has a Cycle Forum, which is seen by the Council as the place where substantive issues of policy and practice, to do with cycling in Sheffield, can be openly discussed and progressed.  The police have a standing invitation to this Forum but generally do not attend.  Their advice and participation would be welcome.

Police response to hit and run:  We are concerned at the reports of police officers’ advice to pedestrians (and we presume cyclists) to wear bright, reflective (eg hi-viz) clothing to avoid collisions with vehicles.  Our concern is that the stress is all on what the victim of a hit and run collision needs to do to avoid being hit by unsafe and negligent drivers.  See http://www.greatgasbeetle.com/south-yorkshire-police-a-new-low-in-keeping-pedestrians-safe/

When we have spoken to the police we get responses from individual officers, but promised follow-up does not materialise and we think some of the advice issued or offered by police officers doesn’t acknowledge best practice or training in what cycling experts say.  We think SYP lacks of any coherent, coordinated view on cycling and maybe has not given this point any attention.

We would value discussing this point with SYP – but it is not a specific incident and no officer will take it further, unless it has an incident number.

(Although we have incident numbers and dates to support much of what we have written above)

Therefore we would like to meet with the Police Commissioner to discuss our concerns and whether he is able to help us make progress with engaging with SYP.

Yours sincerely etc

4 thoughts on “Meeting the South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner (SYPCC)

  1. Thank you for taking this up. I’ve been very shocked by the response I’ve received in the past when reporting incidents to the police.

    I reported a driver who reversed a transit van along the pavement out side a primary school into a group of three children and one adult, narrowly missing them only because they jumped out of the way. I found out that the police have advised the driver to toot his horn when reversing blindly along pavements in future.

    I have also made more than one report about taxi drivers parking in/driving along the cycle contra-flow on the approach to the train station and have been fobbed off completely (despite being surrounded by a gang of around 10 -20 taxi drivers and threatened with violence by them when I stopped to take a photograph of their poor parking).

    And when I reported an incident when I was run off the road (only surviving because I happened to be adjacent to a driveway so managed to escape sideways) by a bin wagon driven by a man who had “not seen me” I was told to speak to his employer, police not the slightest bit interested that HGV’s are being driven around Sheffield by people who can’t see properly.

    1. Thanks for your comment and evidence Sara.
      Re HGVs we are developing a policy for cycle awareness training for all drivers of HGVs for the SCC and their contractors, eg Veolia and Amey. The policy would also state that tenders for contracts should include the condition that their drivers have cycle awareness training.

      1. It was Veolia wagon that almost nobbled me, driver adamant he hadn’t seen me, despite the fact that I have a bike covered in reflective tape and more lights than the Town Hall christmas tree! Funnily, although he hadn’t seen me he was also adamant he’d given me plenty of room!

  2. Sara

    It beggars belief that the Police response re the transit van driver was that he should have sounded his horn – completely neglecting that an offence under s.72 Highways Act 1835 was being committed in the process. If you had witnesses – or the footway was covered by CCTV from the school or nearby buildings you might even ask why the case was not considered for prosecution

    On occasions like this it can be a strange coincidence that wing mirrors get smashed off as the pedestrians leap clear, or for large slow moving flat sided vehicles (like buses pulling in) it is a prudent move to lean against the side as you brake and slide along as the bus passes by, to avoid being knocked down and going under the wheels. Oddly enough that does tend to leave prominent mark on the offending vehicle.

    In the current annual report from the UK Traffic Commissioners (aka The Office of Road Regulation) the commissioner fro your area takes up where his predecessor left off, calling for a better arrangement to get Police and Courts reporting the offences and convictions for bad driving committed by LGV and PCV drivers. The TC has the powers to revoke a vocational licence if the driver is not of Good Repute, but far too often the first they hear of this is when a fatal or serious crash takes place.

    I’m hoping that we can get some dialogue going here on managing vocational driver standards from the perspective of the pedestrians and cyclists who suffer the impact of poor quality in this area.

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