Monday, 12 November 2012

Sharing videos with Roadsafe

On the 14/07/2011, I posted a video on youtube of the driver of a black BMW, registration number YE54 0KV (YE540KV) overtaking me, at a point that was far too close to a central road island, and being forced to go the wrong side of it.  At the same time, I reported him via the Met's roadsafe website.

The video is available here:

You'll note that in my intro to the video, I labelled the driver a Numpty.  This is because I think it's quite clear that he is one.  The officer at the met who reviewed my video got back to me to let me know that they were unable to take any action against the driver as "Unfortunately, due to the mildly insulting comments you have added to the title and content of the video, I am unable to take any further action with regards to this matter. The Metropolitan Police cannot be seen to be endorsing such comments in any way.".  They also warned me that I "leave yourself open to being sued by the driver through the civil courts for slander / defamation by posting such comments about him in the public domain."

I've looked up the definition of "numpty" in the OED, it gives us two possibilities:
  • Noun - A stupid or foolish person; an idiot.
  • Adjective - Esp. of a person: stupid, foolish, idiotic.
I think that the driving in the video is all three, stupid, foolish and idiotic, and stand by my use of the word as such, but I'll let you decide if I'm right or not.

I did however, want to ensure that any further footage I sent to them would be usable, so I asked for some guidance I could share.  I've held onto this myself for far too long, so here it is:

"Thanks for your interest, I have compiled a short list of points that would help both the RoadSafe unit and yourselves :-
First of all, don't engage with the driver / rider who's caused you the problem. It's far better just to record the video and post it. There is always the chance of a violent reaction and we would rather you avoided this where possible. If you should get into an argument with someone, remember that everything you say is being recorded by your camera. We have had cyclists submit videos where their language is unacceptable and they themselves have received a warning from us. 
Try to say the registration number for the camera audio to record. This helps you where the camera hasn't recorded a good enough image to read the plate later.
If you submit a video to us, it would be helpful if you could hold on to the original footage until you hear from us. If you get our standard reply, then you can delete the footage (or whatever you want to do with it). However, it may be that we decide to prosecute the driver and will require the original, unedited footage. You will be asked if you are willing to attend court before we proceed.
When posting the video to YouTube, Vimeo etc. Please don't post insulting comments about the driver. Try to keep it neutral, e.g." This driver overtook me on a blind bend, leaving two inches of space and scared the life out of me," not "this ***** idiot, ****ing nearly killed me, the ****" (I'll leave you to guess the blanks). Keeping it neutral presents you in a better light, gives nothing for a possible defence solicitor to work on and lastly, doesn't leave you open to a libel suit.
Please tag the video with the registration number, without spaces, e.g. AB12CDE. We can't click the links you provide as we have to move to a standalone computer - but please add the full link in case the registration is wrong.
If you post the video publicly, we will add the link to any letter we send out to the drivers. Therefore, you may wish to post the video in such a way that it isn't available to anyone and everyone. YouTube allows this and Vimeo can password protect a video. Or you could use your own web space if you have it. If you do this, please mention this on the RoadSafe submission and we won't include the link.
You will see lots of drivers committing lots of offences every day. We would really like to concentrate on the worst - those that draw your attention or cause you a problem and you really feel need some advice re their driving. The video you submitted is a superb example of this.
I hope this all helps,
PC Stuart Carey"
I'd like to thank PC Carey for this advice, and am just sorry I too so long to share it with people.  I hope you too find it useful!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

A reply to Giles Corran

I'm posting this here as I don't want to lose it.  It's a response by me to a blog by Giles Corran on Skyfall (here -  I agree with a lot of the post, but had a couple of issues with it.  I don't know if this will get through moderation there, but I hope that it does, if not, its here for everyone to enjoy.

I like this article, and enjoyed the questions that it brings to me regarding the film.  I don't have answers to all of your points, but I do have points regarding two of them.  This means my reply contains slightly more spoilers than your article, so some people may not want to read it.  Just a (I hope) helpful warning to those that haven't yet seen it.

"1) Judi Dench’s ‘M’ dies, and is replaced by a man;"

'M' dying is interesting, as part of the film, I don't think that this is a problem.  I really liked Judi Dench as 'M', and am sad that she has left.  However nor do I have a huge problem with the new 'M' being male.  What sort of a mess would we be in if we could couldn't change the sex of someone in a job?  It might have been more interesting to see more candidates for the role, but I'm not sure that this is realistic in terms of the amount that the film can show.  
As such I'm not certain that a charge of sexism can be leveled here, but I do appreciate having to consider it, which I wouldn't have done so much otherwise.

"3) The pretty girl who manages to remain chaste despite Bond’s ‘charms’ is rewarded at the end with a job as his secretary."

I also have to take this one up.  Sadly Giles, you've made a fundamental factual error.  Moneypenny is not Bond's secretary.  This is an important point.  She never has been in any of the films.  She is the private personal secretary to the head of MI6, which is hardly a lowly post.  
Sadly secretaries are now often underrated. Proper secretarial trained people are extremely highly skilled and trained, and the post of personal private secretary of MI6 is not just going to be given to just anyone.  
Moneypenny is shown throughout the film as being highly capable, Bond's attitude to her might not be great (the constant ribbing starts to grate a little after a while) but that's Bond, and doesn't make the whole film sexist.  I'd also like to point out that I don't feel that the job was given as a 'reward' for her actions during the film.  In fact, it's explicitly stated that she's been seconded to cover the transition period between the service heads changing, during her suspension from field service having shot Bond (a shot that she was unhappy about taking and was pushed into by 'M').  This implies to me that she has a wide ranging knowledge of the organisation as a whole, a skill that would by highly valued be someone such as the new 'M' who has just started with the service.
Once again, I'm not sure that the (factually incorrect) point you've made is so much a sexist point, as a failing to appreciate the skills of properly trained secretarial staff.

I'm not going to disagree that the film is in some ways sexist. To an extent I expect it in a Bond film, and would be far more surprised if it wasn't.  I was however fairly pleasantly surprised by how little there was.  I find it interesting that other far more mainstream writers have agreed with me (see for one).

Over the last few weeks, I've been watching the stories coming out of the Everyday Sexism project (see for more details on that).  Many of these fill me with horror, some of them make me question things that I see day to day, and some of them make me question where boundaries are and where they should be.  I'm flagging it here as I hope that both of you find it as interesting and challenging as I have.

Thank you for putting this article into the public domain, and allowing us to comment on it, and thank you to Esther, for letting Giles post this here.  I would like to say once again how much I enjoyed it (and the comments after it too).