Camden Police go undercover to target close passing motorists


Police officers in Camden are taking to two wheels and posing as commuters in a bid to catch drivers who do not leave a safe distance when overtaking cyclists.

As part of a new initiative, the undercover officers took to the streets for the first time on 5 October, with one driver being pulled over for passing too close.

A further 14 motorists were stopped for offences including jumping red lights and driving while using a mobile phone.

The officers cycled around Camden Town and Primrose Hill, while a team of uniformed officers waited to pull over any drivers found not allowing a safe distance, considered to be 1.5 metre.

The operation, which lasts around two hours, will run once a week at the tail end of the morning rush hour.

The tactic has not been used in London before, but if successful in Camden it could be introduced across the Capital.

The initiative is the brainchild of Sergeant Nick Clarke, who was inspired by a similar initiative by West Midlands Police.

He said: “The initial aim is to educate. I think it’s unfair to just come in with a sledgehammer to crack a nut. There needs to be a bedding-in time.

“This time of morning when they [police officers] are on foot patrol, this is not the best time for policing. The people we are normally targeting – criminals – don’t tend to be out and about at this time.”

Nine cyclists were also pulled over during the event, predominantly for jumping red lights.

Sgt Clarke told his fellow officers: “I want you to explain to [cyclists] that jumping red lights is why a lot of drivers think they don’t obey the law and they are contributing to the viewpoint that cyclists are lesser road users. It’s that mentality we need to change to reduce road deaths.”

11 October 2016