Careless motorists in Norwich are being targeted by undercover officers on bikes, as part of a new scheme to educate drivers who drive too close to cyclists.
Operation Close Pass launched on Tuesday 3 October, and sees police constables and community support officers put on their civilian clothes to covertly detect instances of careless driving, and driving without due care and attention.
Once detected, the plainclothes officers will report the offence to uniformed police.
Education over prosecution
Rather than issuing on-the-spot fines and charges, officers will be giving offenders the chance to attend an educational session, and learn about the hazards they’re posing to cyclists.
Although the course takes just a matter of minutes, it is optional.
Drivers have the right to refuse and can opt for a Traffic Offence Report instead, although this means they then risk being charged with driving without due care and attention or careless driving.
“The focus of the day will be to use education as an alternative to prosecution, as we want to inform drivers on why their driving was careless, and take the opportunity to change attitudes towards cyclists,” says Detective Inspector Chris Hinitt, of the Serious Collision Investigation Team.
Any motorists who are suspected of more serious offences, including drink-driving, drug-driving or dangerous driving, will be dealt with separately.
Anyone pulled over who refuses the “educational course” will be issued with a Traffic Offence Report and potentially charged with either careless driving or driving without due care and attention.
Following in the footsteps of safety pioneers
West Midlands police force was the pioneer of the initiative back in September 2016.
#GiveSpaceBeSafe has been a great success, and has since been adopted by the Met Police in London, that rolled out a similar scheme in July this year.
Norfolk Constabulary has launched its own version of the safety initiative in response to 1,200 pedal cycle casualties in just five years, DI Hinitt says.
Responding to Operation Close Pass, Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, says: “It is about changing behaviour and changing attitudes. ‘Close Pass’ schemes have proven successful elsewhere in the country and injuries to cyclists have fallen as a result of their introduction.
“Whether you are a motorist or a cyclist our priority must be making our roads a safer place for all who use them. I will be monitoring the initiative here in Norfolk with great interest.”
Reference: Norfolk Police
Date Published: October 5, 2017
Author: Jackie Kingsley