Record Retreat Report - Łukasz Marek Sielski

In the previous year, the Metropolitan Police alone received over 15,000 reports of dangerous driving from the public. A growing number of individuals, including myself, are turning to cameras as a tool to combat road crime. Embarking on a self-discovery journey, I explored the movement&appos;s history, meeting pioneers, disruptors within law enforcement, and celebrities actively involved in promoting road safety.

I conducted interviews with Jeremy Vine, Andy Cox, Mark Hodson, Mike van Erp, Dave Sherry, Traffic Droid, Cycle Granny, and more.

Unedited snippet:

A land of snitches

In the eyes of Telegraph columnist, Celia Walden, the United Kingdom became a country of snitches.1 In the context of the 2020 lockdown, she ridiculed people reporting barbecues, sleepovers or laughs, and then moved to Mike Van Erp’s video that landed Guy Ritchie a six-month driving ban. I may be too thick, but after she wrote “There’s one thing I loathe more”, I can’t work out if she meant dangerous drivers using handheld devices behind the wheel or those who report them.

What do we hate more? Wrongdoing or standing up to offenders? Does it depend on one’s role in the event or preexisting affiliations? Would we report a burglar? What about a drunk driver? Then what about someone who passed a cyclist close enough to scare, but not enough to kill?

I sat in a crowded bus, somewhere in central Warsaw, and realised that Walden might have been onto something. During that unplanned trip to the country of my origin, I was both shocked and enlightened. There were far more drivers glued to their screens than I see in London. In 2021 in Poland were almost twice as many road deaths per million inhabitants than in the UK (Poland 22452 per 38 million - 59, UK 11583 per 63 million - 24). You can’t state otherwise - Polish roads are far more dangerous. So frightening to be used as an opening to the amazing book “Watching the English” by Kate Fox. So why does it seem that the UK is the leader in third-party recording (reporting crime and offences by the members of the public)? Why it’s not the US where the technology used in our cameras was developed? Why not Australia where, as some say, the first “headcammers” appeared? Why not Netherlands, Denmark, Germany or France which have a much larger number of commuter cyclists, so possibly a greater chance for tension as well?

Is “snitching” a profoundly British thing? Is it a fault or a national virtue?

“The police are the public and the public are the police.4“- Sir Robert Peel


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