Don’t let Police Scotland scrap the new dashcam safety portal
Scotland is at risk of losing a much-needed new online road safety system before it has even been fully developed. Our e-action spoke out to the leadership of Police Scotland that the new dashcam safety portal is essential for improving road safety and is important to members of the public.
Before coronavirus, I used to commute into Glasgow by bike quite frequently. One morning I pulled away from traffic lights on my route and was overtaken by a car with just millimetres of space between us.
It was a terrifying, mindboggling experience – the closest of close passes.
I have no idea what possessed the driver to put me in such danger, but I do know that it was careless or dangerous driving and a breach of Highway Code rule 163.
In my shock, I didn’t think to take a note of the car’s number plate.
If I’d been using a camera – like a GoPro – fitted to my handlebars I would have used that evidence to report the driver to the police.
However, Scotland currently lacks a consistent system for dealing with road crimes caught on camera, and based on the experiences of others, I know that seeking a just outcome in these cases can be time-consuming and uncertain.
National Dashcam Safety Portal
Scotland urgently needs an easy way for anyone to upload camera footage directly to the police and report incidents on the road.
Cycling UK has campaigned for this since 2020 when we highlighted the case of our member David Brennan, whose camera footage showed him being assaulted whilst riding his bike. The driver was not prosecuted and shockingly, David himself was given a police warning for swearing.
David’s case highlighted that a better system is required so that all reports are treated fairly, consistently and efficiently.
We know that dashcams (and cameras used by cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists) are increasingly common.
Police officers can’t be everywhere at once, but if they have an effective means for the public to submit video evidence of dangerous behaviour on our roads, they won’t need to be.
In March we therefore celebrated when government and Police Scotland agreed to develop a National Dashcam Safety Portal – however this is now under threat.
Under threat before it’s even launched
It’s no secret that Police Scotland are facing financial pressures but we recently learned that all police projects are being reviewed and could be axed, including the dashcam safety portal.
This could mean we permanently lose an essential road safety tool – putting the safety of responsible road users at risk, including people riding bikes and those on horseback.
We called on Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone to prevent the scrapping of the dashcam safety portal, and instead to see that it can save the police force money and free up officers to tackle other crimes.
Before the bosses at Police Scotland make future budget decisions in the new year, we made the case that this new system is a priority and showed them that it is wanted by people throughout Scotland.
Thanks for your help
Over 2000 of you wrote to the Chief Constable of Police Scotland and ask him to act now.
Many of you personalised your letter by adding an experience of when you felt unsafe on the road.
I will provide an update early in 2023 on the future of the National Dashcam Safety Portal. Thank you for all your support.
If you do use a camera when out riding or driving, please do report incidents of irresponsible driving to Police Scotland.
Use the current Online Reporting Form and an officer may visit you and potentially upload your footage – you can also visit a local police station to report the crime.
It’s a slower and nationally less consistent process than what’s planned for the Dashcam Safety Portal, but it’s all we have at present.
Ironically, as they consider scrapping a system which would make uploading footage easier, Police Scotland are regularly still appealing to the public to submit dashcam footage to help catch those who commit road crime.
The Dashcam Safely Portal is urgently needed in Scotland - to make it easier for the police to catch criminals, to make it simpler for people using cameras to report incidents, and to improve the safety of all responsible road users