Laura Laker January 26 2017
The Metropolitan Police will trial what they hope will become the ‘gold standard’ of close pass cycling operations in spring, road.cc has learned, with the aim of sending the message to drivers: any cyclist anywhere in London could be a cop.
Sergeant Simon Castle, of the Met’s Cycle Task Force, has confirmed to road.cc this week he has the green light to trial the operation, started by West Midlands Police, which uses a plain clothed officer to identify poor overtaking of cyclists, among other offences.
In the past, the Met has raised doubts about adapting the operation to London roads, but after police in Camden successfully trialled the operation in September 2016 Castle, who describes it as ‘best value roads policing initiative I’ve ever seen’, is now looking to design an operation that could be used at any time, any place in the capital, and is seeking input from cycling groups.
Sgt Castle told road.cc the success of the West Midlands’ operation is the enormous impact it has had with no financial cost to the force – just a few hours of operation time.
“What West Midlands have taught me is it’s not about the impact I have when I’m out there, they have a massive impact when they aren’t out there. That has been the Road to Damascus moment for me: I can be as effective when I’m not out there because there is a threat I might be there.
“You get this halo effect, let’s say we do a close pass operation for three hours in the middle of the day, but there will still be people in rush hour thinking: is that a cop?”
He called what two West Midlands Police officers, Steve Hudson and Mark Hodson, have achieved in their spare policing time “amazing”. In nine hours of close pass operation time they spoke to 130 motorists, with one licence immediately revoked, eight drivers reported for due care and attention offences. Of those, just one person refused roadside education. West Midlands Police say close pass reports from cyclists have halved since the operation began, thanks to the publicity the operation has received.