Some of the most common questions:
A question we are often asked is….why do we charge a membership fee? - PoliceWitness is in the main a philanthropic organisation funded by its founders. We are not funded by government, nor do we receive any kind of grant or support. There are obvious costs to providing the service we do, our aim is to simply cover these costs. That said, we don’t want our members to be out of pocket either, hence our Recognition Scheme, our Insurance Representation Service and our cash back initiatives. The aim to more than cover the cost of membership with discounts, savings and lump sum payments.
What is a car camera and how do they work? - An in-car camera (or dash cam) is a type of video camera that is specifically designed with tailored features for recording continuous footage of the road ahead (and behind in the case of dual camera system).
Are dash cams easy to install? - Most of the time it is just a case of mounting the dash cam on your windscreen and wiring the cable to the cigarette lighter. If you are hard wiring the camera to your car battery, you will need to be competent in this so seek help if you're not confident in doing so. The vast majority are fixed to the windscreen with either a suction or adhesive mount. Both methods are easy to install but offer different functionality and the ability to move a dash cam from vehicle to vehicle.
Does the dash cam drain the car battery when the car ignition is off? - No as most dash cams automatically switch on or off as the power to the cigarette lighter comes on or off. Power to the cigarette lighter comes on when the ignition is switched on and then goes off when the ignition is switched off. This means that the dash cam is not powered when you are not using the car.
Do I need to replace the memory cards when they are full? - No as dash cams have a loop recording feature which means that the dash cam will record until the memory card is full and then start to record new videos over the oldest files. This means that standard video clips don't use up space on the memory card which allows the dash cam to continue recording for lengthy periods of time without the need to clear old files from the memory card.
Can I connect the dash cam directly to the car battery? - Yes if you prefer to connect the dash cam directly to the battery for a tidier installation you can do this. Additionally, many dash cams have a parking mode which generally only work if you connect the dash cam to the battery since the cigarette lighter is only powered when the car is running. You can purchase hard wiring kits in our accessories area in our shop which prevent the car battery from running flat by the dash cam being on even when parked, a useful accessory. We also offer an installation service which can be found in the accessories area of our shop.
Is PoliceWitness.com part of the Police service? - We are not the Police, we do not answer to the Police, we only answer to you. No politics, no bureaucracy, no red (blue) tape! We help ensure the things that are important to you are dealt with in a way that you want.
Can I legally film someone in a public place, even without their consent or knowledge? - Yes, most definitely. Think about the thousands of CCTV cameras in our town centres, a news crew capturing a feature, or indeed the paparazzi who chase and 'snap' celebrities. Anyone in a public place can be captured legitimately. There are always exceptions, one being footage that maybe used for the purposes of committing terrorism, and another is focusing on an individual persistently, without their consent, which may constitute the criminal offence of harassment. The filming of children may also constitute a criminal offence. Capturing video evidence from your car is perfectly legal, as is standing by the roadside and filming as the world goes by!
What happens to the information I report? - Your report is received by PoliceWitness.com and assessed in order to ensure that it goes immediately to the right part of the relevant police force. PoliceWitness.com then liaise with the dedicated officer in that force in order to optimise the outcomes.
I have motoring convictions - can I still become a PoliceWitness? - Yes, motoring convictions make no difference whatsoever to you acting as a PoliceWitness.
If I report something do I need to go to court? - Ultimately, if you have provided your contact details and the CPS decide to prosecute, the court can insist upon the attendance of any witness.
Why should I report incidents through PoliceWitness.com? - PoliceWitness.com has been established in order to help both the public and the police in securing positive outcomes for criminal and motoring issues, which currently pass, undetected. The police are frustrated because they do not have the resources to address many issues, particularly upon the roads, and the public are equally frustrated by the inability of the police to respond when they make contact to report such matters. PoliceWitness.com has implemented a network and process such that reports made by the public, with appropriate supporting evidence, are directed specifically to a dedicated resource in each area. This ensures that the public report receives an appropriate response and effective action.
I want to report incidents of bad driving anonymously, can I? - You can make anonymous reports of bad driving. By doing so, however, you render it highly unlikely that a prosecution will take place. Without you, as a witness, the police will not be able to satisfy the court that the evidence which you have captured on your Dash Camera is genuine. Nevertheless, the information and video footage you provide may be extremely valuable to the police as intelligence. It may well provide them with enough information to treat the person you have filmed as a target for an operation.
What is a DVR? - DVR stands for digital video recorder, or a digital camera. A DVR is generally understood to be equipment which captures moving images, as opposed to the still pictures of a digital camera.
What DVR camera do I use? - You are of course free to use any DVR you wish, but PoliceWitness.com have gone to great lengths to ensure that our range of Dash Cams not only produce images which both the police and Crown Prosecution Service will find suitable for prosecution, but also to source such high quality cameras at the lowest possible prices.
What's the difference between a PoliceWitness In Car Camera and any other DVR? - There is a possibility that you will find a DVR which is not significantly different to one of our in car cameras (also known as a dash cam). There are, however, hundreds of DVR's available to buy on the Internet, but very few of them produce images of the same quality. This means that they will rarely, if ever, be suitable for prosecution. Indeed, the quality of image will often not even be adequate to satisfy your insurance company of liability in the event of an accident. The dash cams available in our shop have been built to our particular specification, and to a standard which the Crown Prosecution Service agree will produce images that will allow them to make decisions on court action. What's more, should you be fortunate enough to find anything of the same quality as one of our recommended in car cameras, you will probably have to pay significantly more to buy it, and you won’t have any assurance that it is fit for its real purpose.
Is there any risk in being a PoliceWitness? - A better question is; Is there a risk in driving on our roads? I think we all know the answer to that! Our reporting process has been designed to allow you to submit reports anonomously, with your details even kept from the Police should you wish. That said, in the event of a serious incident, for example an incident that led to either a serious injury or worse, the police in very rare circumstances may apply for a court order which would mean we may be ordered to share your details with the police. Simply submitting a report will not lead them or the person you are reporting to you. Rest assured, it is extremely rare that anybody, an official court witness or otherwise, is threatened or otherwise endangered because they give evidence about another, and it is unlikely to happen to you. There is an element of risk in everything we do in life, however being a PoliceWitness is the right thing to do. When creating your PoliceWitness Youtube account, always use an alias, for example PoliceWitnessClarkson, always use a prefix of PoliceWitness followed by a name or number.
Can the police use the evidence from my own camera against me? - If you take an image of someone else committing an offence and that image clearly demonstrates that you are committing an offence, the police can indeed use that evidence against you. However, the police are highly unlikely to do so unless the offence you have committed is serious. The images you capture on your in car camera are yours, and as such the choice of whether the police see them is also yours. Unless you hand them over willingly they must get a court order to make you do so, and the images are not likely to be retained on your SD card for that long!
Using a In car camera or dash cam is so reassuring, why doesn't everybody do it? - We think they will, in time. Not only is it reassuring, but it is empowering to an extent that little can match. Like many great initiatives, it is a case of building momentum and ensuring that people hear about in car cameras and their many benefits.
What is a black box? - A black box, rather like those in an aeroplane, is an electronic device which captures data relating to the movement of whatever is carrying it.
What sort of information does a black box contain? How can that information help me? - Attached to a car, or a motorcycle, a black box from PoliceWitness.com will capture data relating to location, speed, acceleration, braking and cornering. By considering this information, and what it says about your driving, you can learn how to drive more smoothly and, especially, more economically. If someone else is driving the car, perhaps a teenage child, you can make yourself aware of not only their compliance with the law (for example, consistently remaining under 30 mph in a built-up area) but also any tendency toward excessive acceleration or braking, as well as excessive cornering speed. If you are prepared to provide this information to an insurance company, on behalf of either yourself or the young driver, PoliceWitness.com can often negotiate significantly reduced premiums on your behalf.
How long does a black box retain the information? - The information captured by a black box must be downloaded periodically to a computer if it is to be read and analysed. How frequently this must be done will depend upon the black box and the size of its memory. Once the memory is full any new data will begin to overwrite the original information.
What does ‘overwrite’ mean? - Imagine the information is stored on a loop, and when it gets to the end of a full circuit it starts again on the same loop. The memory simply cannot handle two sets of information so it effectively erases the first set of data and replaces it with the new.
I want the police to prosecute when I capture some evidence. How can I best achieve this? - First and foremost, you can best achieve this by using a recommended in car camera or other PoliceWitness.com products. They have been designed, tested and verified as ideal to achieve just this outcome. Secondly, you should go to the PoliceWitness.com website and submit the official report you find there. This has been designed in consultation with the police service and adopted by forces throughout the country, thereby ensuring an unparalleled level of cooperation and professionalism. Finally, in completing the report you submit to PoliceWitness.com you should provide as much detail, of which you are certain, as possible. Descriptions of individuals involved are particularly important and you should make a note of anything as soon as possible after an incident.
If my In Car Camera captures police officers driving badly what will happen to the evidence? - Your evidence will be used to prosecute police officers where appropriate, in just the same way as it would be used against any other driver.
What if someone sees the camera in my car? Are they more likely to break in to steal it? - PoliceWitness.com recommends that you position your Dash Cam overtly in order that it may act as a deterrent to others driving badly. If you do this, we also recommend that you remove the camera from public view whenever you leave the vehicle unattended, in just the same way that you would, or should, remove a satellite navigation device, in order to reduce the risk of crime. Some In Car Cameras can be positioned covertly, or at least in such a way that they are very difficult to see, and every user must then make their own judgement as to risk.
I have a sports car with a very sloping window, will the camera still work? - Our In Car Cameras will fit in any make or model of car, on either the windscreen or the dashboard.
Will the In Car Camera drain my car battery? - A Dash Cam draws no power from the battery unless the ignition is switched on. When the engine is running a dash cam will utilise a negligible amount of energy.
Can I use my In Car Camera away from the car? - Yes, you can use your In Car Camera anywhere, and you can either position it on the bracket or use it manually. Other products have however been designed specifically for use whilst in motion away from a vehicle, or for attaching to the person, and will generally function more effectively in these circumstances.
Will the police prosecute for non-motoring issues on my evidence? - Yes, subject to the usual criteria around quality of evidence, and indeed there have already been prosecutions for public order offences in these circumstances.
The law is really complex, how can I know what to report to the police? - Nobody expects you to know what to report to the police, or indeed what might usefully be reported. PoliceWitness.com can make a professional assessment of these issues, but will always submit the evidence and report to the relevant police service through their direct contact in order to ensure that the opportunity for intelligence gathering is not missed.
Do they use in-car DVR's anywhere else in the world? - Indeed they do, and in Tokyo, for example over 50% of vehicles are now equipped with an in car DVR. In the United States, usage is growing rapidly and millions have already been sold.
I drive a taxi and personal safety is a real worry. Can you help? - Yes, please contact PoliceWitness.com through our e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can advise you about our two-channel DVR's, with one conventional forward facing camera and a second camera which covers the inside of the vehicle.
I run a small taxi company and the safety of my drivers is a real worry. Can you help? - Yes, please contact us, as above, and we can advise you on how you can monitor dozens of cameras in dozens of vehicles simultaneously.
I have a small business with a few employees and my costs are going through the roof. How can you help me? - Equipment from PoliceWitness.com can help you monitor the routes taken by your drivers, and the duration of their journeys. Unofficial stops will be very clear. Efficiencies are often very easy to identify with this technology. It is also easy to identify poor driving through the excessive use of acceleration and braking, helping you to advise drivers on company standards and policies, and to make savings of up to 20% on fuel and maintenance.
I understand how In Car Cameras can help protect my company vehicles from accidents and ‘crash for cash’, but I am concerned about what my drivers are doing inside the cab. Can you help? - Two-channel cameras (and four channel cameras) might be very useful for taxi drivers and minicab firms, but the inward facing camera, positioned correctly, will capture every movement and word of the driver as well. Remote monitoring, as described above, will allow you to see not only the illegal use of mobile phones, for example, but also consumption of alcohol or even drugs. The angle of the lens is such that every action of a passenger will also be recorded.
What if I have an accident on the road, and I am at fault? Can the evidence from my camera be used against me? - It is your camera and your evidence. Unless you hand the images you have collected willingly to the police they must get a court order. That takes time.
My In Car Camera looks through my front windscreen. How can that help if I am struck from the side or the rear? - Even a basic In Car Camera will demonstrate how you were driving at the time of the accident. It will show that there was good cause for you to stop or change direction and, combined with the presumption that anybody striking another car from the rear is at fault, your insurance company should support you completely. You will not lose your excess, nor will you suffer an increased premium in future, and settlement should be very swift. If you use a more sophisticated dash cam, incorporating black box technology, the evidence of your driving is incontrovertible.
I sometimes see dangerous driving which is not happening right in front of me. How can I use my In Car Camera in these circumstances? - In Car Cameras and their brackets have been designed to give significant flexibility in their direction of use and, so long as you or your passenger can do so safely, they can usually be turned easily to film out of the side window and capture another driver using a mobile phone, for example.
I have no technical ability at all. I'd like to have a dash cam, and a black box, but I am afraid that I will not be able to install it and it will be a waste of money. - At PoliceWitness.com we have our own resident technical idiot. He needs help to fit a lightbulb. He has fitted and used every piece of equipment which we sell - without help - and then written the instructions to help others like himself!
There must be something about owning and using a Dash Cam which is not good - what are the downsides? - We have started a database to collect responses to this question, but it is still empty. Answers on a postcard please.
I worry about my teenage daughter when she goes out on her own. Can you help? - Yes, we can help. Please contact us through our e-mail address: email@example.com and we can help you with our range of personal cameras and tracking equipment. She can feel safer and you can feel happier.