Police forces across Britain have been saved 68,474 hours of man hours processing evidence of dangerous driving in the last year thanks to a new database where motorists can upload incriminating footage captured on dash cams.
This is the equivalent of 2,685 days – or roughly seven years – worth of time saved.
The national dash cam safety portal was launched last July offering an easy way for drivers to submit video evidence of illegal actions on the road that authorities can use for to convict those found breaking the law.
In the first 12 months of the database being available, some 4,891 clips were uploaded to the portal, resulting in 1,223 prosecutions, exclusive data for This is Money shows.
Caught in the act: Members of the public who have uploaded incriminating evidence of dangerous driving caught on their dash cams to a police database have helped convict 1,223 motorists in a year
Nextbase, the dash cam manufacturer that has pioneered the database, said the new system has drastically reduced the amount of time it takes police to process clips and investigate reckless and illegal driving.
With forces across Britain strapped for cash and having staff numbers cut, the lightening of workload is estimated to have freed up critical policing time.
At the time of publishing, 22 forces are on-board and using the system, while others are expected to adopt it in the future.
It’s estimated the previous method of receiving, viewing and processing footage of dangerous driving provided by other motorists would take around 14 hours per video.
This is because clips could only be used in a similar way to eye-witness accounts, which required interviews and masses of paperwork during processing – which unsurprisingly proved time consuming.
The new portal instead utilises a recent loophole found by North Wales Police in 2016 that allows forces to use dash cam and helmet cam footage in the same way speed camera clips are used as the sole evidence needed to punish limit-breaking motorists.
The new system makes it simple and fast for drivers to upload dash cam footage to a police-accessed network.
Each video requires a short description of the event captured and a supporting online questionnaire, which takes around 15 minutes to complete in total.
Footage can be uploaded to the National Dash Cam Safety Portal (NDCSP) in just 15 minutes along with a description and questionnaire that is then used as an eyewitness statement
This is then used as the eyewitness statement in cases.
Officers review each video and – as with speeding fines – send a driving penalty notice to the guilty party who can choose to accept it or dispute it in court.
All public-generated video footage can be used to target a multitude of offences, including dangerous driving, driving without due care and attention, contravening solid white lines, mobile phone use, improper control of vehicle and contravening red traffic lights.
The 22 police forces currently involved confirmed that 50 per cent of the videos provided by the public were reviewed in the first year.
Of these, half resulted in prosecutions, varying from out-of-court written warnings and points deducted to court cases and driving bans.
One of the first adopters of the NDCSP, West Mercia Police has seen a marked change in the efficiency of its traffic monitoring as a direct result.
Commenting on the initiative, Supt Mel Crowther said: ‘The national dash cam safety portal is a tool that can be used by all road users; drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders and motorcyclists.
‘Any footage is permitted, and as a result we have seen a great amount of members of the public getting behind this system.
‘As a force, we have been using this to deliver our own ‘Operation Snap’ initiative over the past year.’
She added: ‘The use of the NDCSP is a perfect example of modern police forces embracing new technology in order to help with internal time management.
‘It ensures that our policing services are as accessible as possible, complementing the work already being done by police officers on our road network.
‘Most importantly, it allows us to show that a dangerous driver’s behaviour can and will be held to account.
‘I am confident that, with the help of other road users, this technology will deter people from making poor choices on the road and help make our roads safer for all.’
The database has helped ease cash-strapped police force resources by saving processing time for dangerous driving cases caught on camera
One of the latest forces to use the system, Northumbria Police, said the portal was the latest example of ‘modern policing’ and the database is the best possible service available to the communities it serves.
Head of communications, Neil Preston, said: ‘The national dash cam safety portal reduces the demand on our communications centre by providing a quick and easy solution for the public to upload footage.
How do I submit footage?
If you use a dash cam and want to submit footage, visit the NDCSP website.
From there, you click on the region the incident happened, and then finally the specific force.
It will then prompt you for some basic details, including location and time of incident, and the option to add other details, such as vehicle registration plates.
‘The number of positive outcomes that we have seen as a direct result of these submissions is very high. The system continues to help us make our region a safer place for road users.’
Richard Browning, director of Nextbase, said the first year success of the portal had been ‘very rewarding’, having help prosecute a number of dangerous drivers who otherwise would have escaped punishment.
‘Our mission in building the platform was to remove the most dangerous drivers from our roads and it sounds like that is happening, slowly but surely,’ he said.
‘The three million dash cams on UK roads are a powerful tool that can be used to deter road users from putting others at risk, provided the forces have the means to deal with the footage.
‘That’s now the case and we are confident the NDCSP continue to make our roads safer as more forces adopt the technology.’
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