Meeting the force

A delegation consisting of

  • RoadPeace the national charity for road crash victims supported in the Northeast by Thompsons Solicitors
  • Sustrans national charity for sustainable transport
  • us (campaign for better cycling provision in Newcastle and surroundings)
  • met the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Dennett on 11 September 2013.

    Recap. The meeting was set up as a result of writing to all PCC candidates to discuss cycling and policing would they be elected. That was after our members told us to lobby for improved police investigations, reporting, enforcement and overall liaison. A tall order! All candidates responded positively.

    The meeting which took place at the PCC head quarters on Balliol Business Park (a new development with no cycling provision!), was a positive one. Mark will provide a formal written reply to RoadPeace’s pre-meeting questionnaire (attached below) and follow-up talks and more on-going involvement were agreed to take place, with details to be discussed and agreed. To help the police to learn from others and continually improve, we heard with great interest that Vera had set up internal groups like victim support and a public scrutiny panel. We will ask to obtain a representative seat. These groups could be a way to influence the ‘powers that be’ and their decision-making, focus, training and skills.

    Vera has a strong focus on victim support and the first priority on her list is ‘Putting Victims First’. We talked about that this is how many vulnerable road users feel. We do not want things to go wrong on our roads. But when it does happen – and too often with most serious consequences too – we want to see a level playing field, fair hearing and justice based on evidence collated by the expert police officer investigating the crash scene. Therefore the bulk of the meeting focussed on understanding how the force uses the Road Death Investigation Manual or RDIM – and there are early indications that this could be improved. Again, we asked to be involved so watch this space.

    What’s in a word? The term ‘accident’ is still in wide use within the police force, as Mark acknowledged. We explained that this can be a hurtful terminology as it too easily absolves responsibility and the words crash or collision are more neutral and appropriate. A useful RoadPeace briefing can be found