For @newkiddswagg

Hugely disappointed that you have blocked me on Periscope because my important message has not yet reached you. 
I’m trying to think of a way I can get your attention and help you to realise how dangerous streaming and driving is. 
I’m sure you are an honest and caring man and would not want to hurt anyone. As a man of faith (as I am) I find it increasingly difficult to reconcile your driving and scoping with a man who loves his neighbour as himself.
If your child or a family member were run down and killed by a driver who was streaming, driving, reading the comments, giving a presentation, not looking at the road ahead and regularly had no hands on the wheel for considerable lengths of time you would be rightly upset. 
You may be able, in time, to forgive but that would not bring your loved one back. How would you feel if you were the driver?
I don’t intend to spam you or troll you. I hope and pray to God that you see sense and stop this dangerous behaviour. I’m sure if you look at this clinically you know it makes sense. No matter how much fun can be had with Periscope it must not be from behind the wheel of a moving car. 
Please please #DontStreamAndDrive

#DontStreamAndDrive Day

Friends. I need your help.

Driving is a complex operation. A blending of eye, hand and foot coordination that can propel a vehicle down a road at incredible speed. A process that requires skill, judgement, responsibility and places upon you, as a driver, a duty of care to yourself and every other road user.

If done correctly, driving a car fully occupies your attention. Listen to my simple commentary here as I drive down country lanes. Now consider that in a city with pedestrians, cyclists, pedestrian crossings, more traffic, buses, more road signs, junctions and hazards. If you are fully focussed on your driving you have zero time to do anything else.

The use of mobile phones by drivers has been in existence since the devices were introduced. The specific offences were introduced to UK legislation in 2003.

As phones have become an essential part of day to day life the use of them by drivers has increased. Stand at any busy junction for 5 minutes and count how many drivers you see using a phone. You will be appalled. Studies have shown that driving ability is clearly impaired by using a mobile phone and that talking on a hand-held mobile phone impairs driving more than driving above the drink drive limit. Just think about that for a moment.

The Government in the UK recognise the implications of this behaviour and have, over the years, gradually increased the penalty for this offence. There is currently a consultation on bumping them up again. However, indications are that use by drivers is not reducing.

When questioned many people will agree that drinking and driving is unacceptable but will often happily get behind the wheel after 1 or 2 drinks. When asked, some people will agree that using a phone whilst driving is dangerous but will do it themselves. Why? Because they are a safe driver? There is regularly a disconnect between what people ‘think’ about certain behaviours and what they allow themselves to do.

In 2014, using a mobile phone whilst driving was a contributory factor in 21 fatal accidents. 21 families torn apart with grief. 21 lives needlessly taken because of unnecessary mobile phone use. Have you used a phone whilst driving? Did you think about the consequences and still use the phone anyway… or is this sort of tragedy, the kind of thing that happens to others? You’re a safe driver right? Wrong… if you use a phone whilst driving…. VERY wrong. It can, does and will happen to someone just like you.

But there is more to worry about. This isn’t making phone calls. This isn’t sending texts. This is the massively increasing trend of livestreaming on the internet. Livestreaming is fun and a great way to engage with friends and others online. You can show viewers what you are doing, what you are looking at and let them see who you are, your personality and your life. This is great when in a city and showing the sights, streaming an amazing sunset on Hawaii or the view from a hot air balloon drifting over the Serengeti. It’s amazing and really opens up other peoples worlds to us. There are many platforms to do this from such as Periscope, MeVee, Blab, Meerkat, Facebook and Snapchat. It stands to reason though that live streaming is going to come into the driving arena.

That last sentence is deliberately phrased to give the impression the problem is coming. The reality though is that livestreaming and driving is already here. I’ve spent the last few weeks looking at what people are doing and have been left utterly speechless. Drivers holding phones and broadcasting whilst they drive. Drivers flipping the camera whilst holding the phone whilst they drive. Drivers reading comments that viewers have put on the screen and engaging in conversations. Drivers showing themselves driving and the scary amount of time their eyes are looking at the phone and not on the road. Drivers admitting that what they are doing is probably illegal, reckless or dangerous.. but STILL DOING IT! Drivers who are almost giving a presentation… aiming for some sort of social media celebrity status  and desperately trying to impress viewers.

Yesterday I watched a young woman in the USA, streaming, driving, reading the comments, replying to the viewers and was adjusting her hair at the same time. She had no hands at all on the steering wheel.

The consequences of this new behaviour are very frightening. It will not be long before the first person livestreams their own death or that of another whilst driving.

I have called out a few people over the last few weeks who have streamed and drived. I have tried to point out the dangers and have used some videos to try and reinforce the point.

You can find them all here.

Livestreaming and driving is increasing every day. The people I have called out are roughly split into 3 groups. Those who don’t reply to me at all, those who are in denial (“I’m a safe driver” and “I never touched the phone”) and those who realise what they have done and commit to never do it again.

I’ll finish as I started. ‘I need your help’

On Friday 8th April 2016 I plan to run a #DontStreamAndDrive day.

Over the next few weeks I will be asking you to help support the day. To get the message out to as many people as possible that livestreaming and driving can be a fatal.

I will be asking you as a livestreamer to get online and post a short broadcast with the hashtag. In the broadcast you will give your commitment to never stream and drive, encourage others not to and that you will never watch a broadcast when the host is driving. Those on Twitter who do not livestream will be encouraged to post a picture holding a card with the hashtag or written on their hand in the classic palm forward ‘stop’ style. More detailed info will follow nearer the date.

I plan to speak to as many road safety agencies as I can to gain support. I will approach all my policing colleagues in the UK, North America and beyond to get them to help and share the message both in advance and then support the event on the day.

I know that every right thinking person would want to reduce the number of deaths on our roads. Ironically every streaming driver I have seen would probably say the same…. we need to bridge the gap between the mindset and the behaviour. We need to get the message out there now, nice and early, to current and future livestreamers that streaming and driving is massively dangerous and must not be done.

Thank you for reading. Thank you to those who have supported me so far. Thank you if I’ve touched a chord and you think you will be able to help me in advance of and on the April 8th itself.

If you’re on Twitter or Facebook then please consider signing up to the #DontStreamAndDrive Thunderclap

The message is really quite simple; #DontStreamAndDrive

I am delighted that #DontStreamAndDrive day has the support of the amazing organisations and police forces;

Supporters 160407

(click image for larger version)

Police Professional Magazine ; Fixers UK ; THINK! ; TISPOL ; Road Safety GB ; Brake Charity ; Safe Drive GM ; Road Safety Wales ; Birmingham Updates ; Wasted Lives ; National Crime Agency ; Bedfordshire Police ; Leicestershire Police ; Surrey Police ; North Yorkshire Police ; North Wales Police ; College of Policing ; Cumbria Crack ; Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service ; Wiltshire Police ; Sussex Police ; Avon and Somerset Police ; Police Federation of England and Wales ; Norfolk Police ; Suffolk Police ; RoSPA ; West Yorkshire Police ; West Midlands Fire Service ; Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service ; Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service ; East Anglia Air Ambulance ; North West Motorway Patrol Group ;

*Featured image courtesy of Mike Petrucci on Flickr (satnav screen image changed and text added)

Why Cops Harass People

I just saw this on Facebook and had to cross post. Superb. 

A North Island police station received this question from a resident through the feedback section of a local Police website:
“I would like to know how it is possible for police officers to continually harass people and get away with it?”

In response, a sergeant posted this reply:
First of all, let me tell you this … it’s not easy. In the Palmerston North and rural area we average one cop for every 505 people. Only about 60 per cent of those cops are on general duty (or what you might refer to as “general patrols”) where we do most of our harassing.

The rest are in non-harassing units that do not allow them contact with the day to day innocents. At any given moment, only one-fifth of the 60 per cent of general patrols are on duty and available for harassing people while the rest are off duty. So, roughly, one cop is responsible for harassing about 6000 residents.
When you toss in the commercial business and tourist locations that attract people from other areas, sometimes you have a situation where a single cop is responsible for harassing 15,000 or more people a day.

Now, your average eight-hour shift runs 28,800 seconds long. This gives a cop two-thirds of a second to harass a person, and then only another third of a second to drink a Massey iced coffee AND then find a new person to harass. This is not an easy task. To be honest, most cops are not up to the challenge day in and day out. It is just too tiring. What we do is utilise some tools to help us narrow down those people we can realistically harass.

PHONE: People will call us up and point out things that cause us to focus on a person for special harassment. “My neighbour is beating his wife” is a code phrase used often. This means we’ll come out and give somebody some special harassment. Another popular one is, “There’s a guy breaking into a house.” The harassment team is then put into action.

CARS: We have special cops assigned to harass people who drive. They like to harass the drivers of fast cars, cars with no insurance or drivers with no licences and the like. It’s lots of fun when you pick them out of traffic for nothing more obvious than running a red light. Sometimes you get to really heap the harassment on when you find they have drugs in the car, they are drunk, or have an outstanding warrant on file.

LAWS: When we don’t have phone or cars, and have nothing better to do, there are actually books that give us ideas for reasons to harass folks. They are called “statutes”. These include the Crimes Act, Summary Offences Act, Land Transport Act and a whole bunch of others… They spell out all sorts of things for which you can really mess with people. After you read the law, you can just drive around for a while until you find someone violating one of these listed offences and harass them. Just last week I saw a guy trying to steal a car. Well, the book says that’s not allowed. That meant I had permission to harass this guy.

It is a really cool system that we have set up, and it works pretty well. We seem to have a never-ending supply of folks to harass. And we get away with it. Why? Because, for the good citizens who pay the tab, we try to keep the streets safe for them, and they pay us to “harass” some people.
Next time you are in Palmerston North, give me the old “single finger wave”. That’s another one of those codes. It means, “You can harass me.” It’s one of our favourites.

#OffBeat – The UK Police Blab

The second blab but the first that was a proper event. 

I was joined by @nathanconstable and @constablechaos. I then spent considerable time dropping in and out with a very poor Internet connection. I am very grateful to @nathanconstable for continuing to keep the show going whilst I disappeared, returned and disappeared again!

This is a new medium but is gaining interest every day and the feedback we have had so far has been wholly supportive. 

On a replay if all seats are occupied you would see a quad with 4 people. However, if, like @nathanconstable , you disable the camera then he doesn’t show at all. As a result the screen jumps around a bit depending on who is live and in a seat. It was a great show though and well worth a watch/listen. See it all here. 

https://t.co/5EiKyA4UnG

The next #OffBeat blab is 8pm on Wednesday 11th November. Hope to see you there. 

Skype Wars

Click here for Star Wars crawler

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away……

[cue Star Wars fanfare]

A New Hope

It is a period of civil unrest.
NPCC rebels striking from
a hidden base, have won their
first victory against the evil
Empire.

During the battle, rebel spies
managed to steal secret plans
to the Empire’s ultimate weapon,
the DEATH KNELL. A cunning plan
to reduce rebel numbers,
increase their workload and destroy
policing forever.

Pursued by the Empire’s sinister
agents, Prince Alec of the Cambridge
alliance races to HQ, custodian
of the stolen plans that can save
his force, the public they serve and
restore freedom to the galaxy…..

At my recent TEDx talk I said that Skype, FaceTime and other video applications would become more common place in policing and forces needed to build this into their call handling infrastructure.

Yesterday, amongst a tidal wave of misinformed commentary, Cambridgeshire Police announced plans to use Skype as a contact method. The story was reported in the media in a variety of ways.

The BBC were fairly balanced and the Daily Mail (as you would expect) were less so.

Cambridgeshire Police were far calmer, rational and informative with their news release. 

There was also a discussion on LBC about it. Clive Chamberlain (@MrCliveC) appeared on the Nick Ferrari show and the conversation continued later in the next show.

The pilot the Cambridgeshire Police are running has been described as a retrograde step and ushering in an era of “virtual policing”. Callers to LBC explained how this service was going to maginalise pensioners who cannot afford computers, don’t use computers and don’t have internet connections. Others said it was a disgrace and just a cost cutting measure. Another way the police were squirming out of doing their job. The commentary ran from the ridiculous

“I’ve been burgled and my laptop stolen. How can I Skype you?

to the absurd

“How am I supposed to Skype the police whilst being stabbed?”

In order to address some of these concerns let’s apply a healthy dollop of common sense to the whole debate.

Skype is a big, no, enormous business that allows millions of users worldwide to connect and engage in video conversations with friends, family and for business. It is a modern form of communication that is increasing in popularity as faster internet speeds have made it easier to achieve a reliable service.

If the public are using this service in vast numbers then why not the police if we can see a use for it?

How are the police going to use it? It’s important to immediately dismiss any notion that Skype will replace emergency 999 calls or that it is to be the only method of contacting he police. I tweeted to LBC;

The Skype debate is not “we are moving to Skype get used to it”…. It’s “here is another option you may choose to use” @LBC

It actually made it on air and to be fair Tom Swarbrick really couldnt see the issue his callers had with the proposal.

The Cambridgeshire news article is quite clear. They deal with some 101 calls by an appointment system. This won’t be all 101 calls but it will be those that have been assessed as being suitable to be dealt with by appointment. This is not new. My force runs such a scheme. West Midlands have also had a “diary car” for some time. These booking systems work and provide a good service. Let me explain why.

You are having continual problems with your neighbour. There is nothing going on right now but you want to speak to the police about the issue. You call 101. The police take the call and consider the priority to deal with the it. Many people will demand to see a police officer and you do too but tell the call handler that you are only available until 3pm and need to see someone before then. The call taker can see the list of imagepriority and emergency incidents already pending. They make an assessment and try to steer you toward an appointment. The nature of demand means we cannot promise to get to you before 3pm. You could sit there waiting all day only to get a call at 2.50pm apologising that we can’t get to you and asking when you are next free. You get cross, arrange a time window for the next day of 10am to 2pm. You sit around all day again and we still haven’t got to you. This process can sometimes roll on for days. This makes us worse than the boiler repair company who say they will be with you at ‘some’ time between 8am and 6pm. Your whole day, or several, are wasted.

So we make an appointment. A dedicated officer not responding to immediate and priority incidents will attend at a given time and see you. You can plan your time accordingly. Brilliant. You get a better service and we come to see you. Win all round.

The appointment systems are a good way of ensuring we deal with (a phrase not liked in policing) ‘slow time’ demand.

So where does Skype fit in with this? Many issues do not need the physical presence of a police officer. We just need to take the facts, evaluate the circumstances then give advice and put a plan in place to deal with it. So in the appointment scenario above the call handler asks the Skype question. You are a modern person. You understand the demands on policing and you don’t really care how you communicate the problem to the police, you just want something done. You accept the offer, the police officer Skypes you at the given time and the matter moves along. It’s different and more interactive than just a phone call.

Of course you may say “I don’t have Skype” or “I really would like to talk in person with an officer”. Then guess what? We’re coming. It’s as simple as that.

Of course this is a new direction for police contact. Traditionalists will see it as a step that distances the police even further from the community. Some will see it as the thin edge of the wedge and the harbinger for virtual police officers based in call centres in Bangalore.*

Will this save money? Yes but in reality a negligible amount… fuel etc. Will it save time? Yes. Stacks of it; particularly in rural forces where beat areas can be several hundred square miles. In policing our most precious resource is our staff and their most precious commodity is their time. If in some small way we can utilise a more efficient way of communicating with people, when it suits them and us, then it has to be a good thing. It saves us money but more importantly time. Time we can then put to good use.

The outrage bus of misinformation was in top gear in the fast lane yesterday. This is not the death knell of policing as we know it. This is not the end of personal visits from police officers. This is not the abandonment of traditional contact methods such as 101, 999, email, letter and webpage. This is adding another option for the public to use to contact us in a way that suits them.

The space the police occupy on the internet is increasing every day. We Tweet, we Facebook, we Instagram, we Periscope, we YouTube and more. We are starting to broadcast public meetings on Blab so that those who cannot attend such meetings in person (disability, single parents and more) can do so digitally and have their voice heard. Now we Skype too. Is there seriously something wrong with that?

To those of you that doubt this idea I repeat the words of a famous Dark Lord…

“I find your lack of faith disturbing..”

Darth Vader

May the [police] force be with you…  in a way that suits you, us and works.

  • [irony and sarcasm alert] The police have always been years behind the private sector. Just as the banks are moving away from off shore call centres it would follow tradition that we would now move off shore! There are probably a few call centres going cheap. [/ends]
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