Welsh Police ‘Operation SNAP’
The Police Service in Wales now has a scheme for accepting cam evidence of traffic misconduct, and in some circumstances this can proceed to prosecution.
An interesting case appeared at Llandudno Magistrates Court on Thursday 3rd January 2019. This involved a gentleman defendant named Arthur Francis Waller, described as a businessman. The trial related to an incident on the B5109 Conwy to Betws y Coed road. This is a popular route for cyclists riding along the Conwy Valley as an alternative to the busy A470 trunk road.
At approximately 09.40 hrs on Saturday 23rd June 2018, members of a local cycling club were riding in a southerly direction, a weekly social activity involving seasoned veteran riders and newcomers alike. On the day they had split into small groups separated by some distance. Two cyclists who had set out late recorded on camera a close pass by a newly registered BMW car in the Village of Dolgarrog. The driver then proceeded to close pass at speed another group some distance further down the road which was also recorded on camera. When the club gathered at their usual coffee stop it became apparent the same driver had caused alarm in both incidents.
For each event, two independent statements were subsequently lodged via the Operation Snap Website, along with the uploaded video evidence. In relation to the first incident the registered keeper of the car was issued with a police caution letter. In respect of the second incident the registered keeper of the car received a Notice of Prosecution. The driver was subsequently summoned to attend the Mold Magistrates Court where he indicated his intention to plead not guilty to a charge of Driving Without Due Care and Attention. The case was adjourned for trial at Llandudno Magistrates Court on Thursday 3rd January 2019.
On the due date, appearing at Llandudno, the unrepresented defendant subsequently changed his plea to Guilty. After viewing the video in open court the Justices proceeded to sentence the defendant driver as follows:
Victim Surcharge £30
Crown Prosecution Costs £310
Three Penalty Points were awarded.
The defendant apologised to all concerned.
The ‘Operation Snap’ Website now covers the whole of Wales.
Video evidence of alleged inappropriate conduct can be uploaded to this site. DO NOT DELAY. In normal circumstances the Police must contact the registered keeper within 2 weeks for a prosecution to be possible.
Remember, the Operation Snap site can only be used if you have adequate video evidence of hazardous use of the highway. Road Traffic Collisions (i.e. you are knocked of your bike) are specifically excluded. In such instances you need to report to the police directly via 101 or 999 in an emergency.
Within the cycling community some satisfaction is being expressed with the performance of Operation Snap as currently being developed by North Wales Police. Several cases have been reported to us of successful outcomes of drivers being held to account for careless or abusive conduct.
Cyclists in general do not wish drivers who have thoughtlessly driven within a cyclists’s comfort zone to be penalised excessively, However they do believe drivers awareness of the danger they can create through inattention or deliberately malicious behaviour should be highlighted, either by caution notices, driving awareness courses, or, as in this case, prosecution.
Those riders who performed an invaluable public service by acting upon the video footage in their possession deserve commendation. It is only by bringing to publlc attention the misuse of our roads that standards can be raised. For that to be achieved, all road users bear some responsibility.
For reasons that should be clear to any reasonable person, the most vulnerable traveller, the cyclist, seeks harmony and respect on the road, not conflict.