Tuesday, 14 June 2016

It all started innocently enough...

On Twitter, Inspector David George (@MPSHillingWest) tweeted the following message:
"Goodness me!! Just driven into work and within 6 miles I counted 17 cyclists jumping reds. Targeted operation required !! Cyclist watch out"

Now on the surface, that tweet seems perfectly fine. After all, this is a police officer, whose job it is to enforce the law, commenting on a number of people who were seen by him to have flagrant disregard for the law. Nothing wrong with that, now is there?

Well, that depends on your point of view. See, in an ideal world, where police had all the resources they could possible want, and some spare, where they can apply increased resources in a specific area without anything else suffering, and where all law-breaking is pursued with equal vigour there would indeed be nothing wrong with the Inspector's tweet.

Except we don't live in that ideal world. We live in the real world, where government cuts have decimated police forces across the country, leaving them unable to respond to burglaries and more. In this real world, roads are becoming increasingly lawless, and police appear to be doing less and less to effectively police roads.

As a direct result, quite predictably cyclist killed or seriously injured (KSI) statistics have been steadily rising. Equally worrying is the commonly held belief amongst most cyclists that there is no point reporting anything to police, as the police aren't interested. Sadly, that belief formed from the collective experiences of many cyclists.

Now let's go back to the good Inspector George, shall we? During ALL of 2016 up to when he tweeted about cyclists he tweeted not a single instance of bad driving, though he will have observed thousands of examples of very poor and dangerous driving. Despite the fact that drivers kill a great many more people than cyclists, the Inspector isn't concerned enough about the speeding, tailgating, driving while using a handheld phone, red light skipping and other forms of dangerous driving we all witness on a daily basis to tweet about it, much less to threaten "targeted action" against such scofflaw drivers.

That is called being biased. It is a simple and clearcut case of bias. Remember, the issue is NOT targeting cyclists who jump red lights. The issue is ONLY targeting cyclists who jump red lights, while ignoring far bigger and more common dangers on the road.

Now as I said, we don't live in an ideal world, and we have to accept from the outset that in some way or the other we are all biased. That's OK, to a degree. It is NOT OK when you command police resources, and your bias allows you to take those resources and target them at the road users causing the least harm, while ignoring those that do most harm even more.

Sadly, the Inspector seems utterly unable to grasp just how biased he is. Worse - he appears totally unwilling to even consider the fact that he might indeed be biased. This is a man we're supposed to rely on to help keep our roads safe!

It is little wonder then that cyclists generally have such little faith in the police. Remember, this is a senior officer whose opinions and attitudes will filter down to the police officers serving under him, leading to increased lack of support for cyclists from police and in that actively making the roads more dangerous for cyclists.