Scottish Government questions why Police Scotland unable to confirm dashcam footage scheme launch
Transport Scotland officials have demanded to know why Police Scotland has cast doubt on being able to launch a new streamlined system for submitting dashcam footage of traffic incidents, which the Scottish Government agency said it had fully funded.
The pilot scheme is due to be introduced in January after the success of similar well-established schemes by other UK police forces, but Police Scotland said it was “under review”.
The planned online “portal” is seen as making it easier for people to send video evidence from cameras in their vehicles and on bikes, as well as making the assessment of footage by officers for potential crimes more consistent. Footage currently has to be taken to a police station or collected by a police officer.
However, Police Scotland has been unable to confirm whether the project, which was announced by active travel minister Patrick Harvie in March, would go ahead. It said last month the scheme was “in the initial business case stage”.
Police Scotland said: “The implementation date for the project pilot was indicated as January 2023. However, this is currently under review. Currently no company has been contracted to develop any systems in relation to this.”
Chief Superintendent Louise Blakelock, the force’s head of road policing, said: “We can currently receive digital submissions from the public, but are considering more efficient ways to do this, such as the online dashcam safety portal. When our budget position is finalised, the service will assess all ongoing transformation work and prioritise it accordingly.”
But her comments surprised Transport Scotland, which said the Government had already provided Police Scotland with £300,000 for the scheme as part of the Road Safety Framework Fund.
Its spokesperson told Scotland on Sunday: “We have sought both a programme update from Police Scotland and clarity on what steps need to be taken to implement this Programme for Government commitment.”
Cycling UK in Scotland, which has campaigned for two years for the scheme, has already expressed alarm. The organisation said the project would save the police money while reducing the risk of footage being inconsistently assessed by the range of officers doing it across the country, such as what constituted a vehicle passing too close to a cyclist.
Campaigns and policy manager Jim Densham said: “We are deeply concerned that this promised project has been delayed and could be under threat due to financial constraints within Police Scotland. We understand that the police are facing financial pressures, but strongly believe that this technology, which benefits all responsible road users and has strong public backing, must be delivered as a priority.”
Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy and research director of motoring group IAM RoadSmart, said: “It makes no sense whatsoever that Scotland still does not have an easy-to-access dashcam portal to allow people to quickly submit evidence of poor driving and riding.
"[Transport minister] Jenny Gilruth and her ministerial colleagues need to get this sorted out and ensure Transport Scotland and Police Scotland start working together to deliver a key project in the Scottish Government’s road safety plan.”