Destruction of Evidence

CMA lodges formal complaint with Highways England over destruction of potentially vital CCTV evidence

“When Highways England are aware of an incident, why on earth is the CCTV footage not retained?” – CMA MD Philip Swift

Claims Management & Adjusting (CMA) has formally written to Highways England about its National Control Centre’s CCTV footage being deleted after only seven days. The facility monitors the UK’s road network 24/7 and alerts contactors to that fact that an incident may require attention, for example, a motorway barrier might need repairing or a fuel spillage might need clearing up.

Managing Director of CMA, Philip Swift, a former police detective, said: “When Highways England are aware of an incident, why on earth is the CCTV footage not retained? The issue of liability is key in cases of damage to Crown property. If the driver was negligent, they will likely be responsible for the repair costs. Unfortunately, it is often an innocent party who ends up colliding with a barrier, while the truly at-fault driver (the one who veered towards them and caused them to swerve) sails merrily on their way. In swerve-to-avoid incidents like these, video footage – either from dashcams or CCTV – can be extremely useful.

“You can see why drivers, fleets and insurers get frustrated when it appears that the very people pursuing them for money, Highways England, have destroyed potentially vital evidence. Imagine how you’d feel if you weren’t at fault but you received one of these invoices including an amount for the National Control Centre operator’s time. We advise our clients to request the CCTV footage immediately, and ask for it to be supplied within five days, but Highways England’s policy in this area needs to be urgently reviewed.”

If you need further advice on this issue, please contact CMA on 0845 3888 810 or click here

  • update 20/12/2016:

In November 2016, we wrote to Highways England asking that they review their policy of destroying CCTV footage of our highways, records pertaining to incidents, within 7 days – see:

Our approach was made following an increased notification of ‘swerve-to-avoid’ incidents where the insured appeared not to be at fault but struggled to counter the serious, yet often unfounded, accusations made against them. Distracted driving is a blight on our roads, see:

A driver is unlikely to be aware of the ability to secure CCTV footage, consider the evidence or that they must react within the necessary, brief window of opportunity – just 7 days!

Additionally, expecting a driver to inform their insurer, the information to reach the appropriate department and an application made within the short time period is unrealistic. This must surely be obvious.

In numerous instances, drivers do not report collisions with Crown Property.  The reasons are many and varied, but for example, there may exist an inability to claim off their own policy (TPFT cover). In such cases,  the driver may arrange their own recovery and disposal of the vehicle possibly believing they will hear no further … or that they need not notify the incident to anyone and their no-claims bonus is unaffected.

But, if able to react in time, drivers and insurers can secure the evidence

  • Highways England have confirmed to us in writing that CCTV can be requested within 7 days.

While welcome, CMA considers this insufficient.  We will continue to press for a change in policy to extend the 7-day deadline.  In the meantime, you may wish to circulate the above to the relevant people within your organization – we would suggest emailing in the first instance.

FOI Advice, Highways England Company Limited – whatdotheyknow response – click here

I am sorry that we were unable to assist you with your query on this occasion. The motorway network cameras are in place to provide operational information to Highways England Officers. This allows them to observe traffic flow in strategic areas and despatch on-road crews as required. However, we are able to provide this information in certain circumstances, if asked for in time. As mentioned previously, our retention policy for CCTV footage is held for 7 days where after it is automatically erased. Please be aware that the chance of Highways England having a camera in the area, pointing in the right direction at the right time is limited. If images of the incident are available they will not generally be zoomed in and will not show details such as number plates and faces. If the images do show another vehicle so that details such as the number plate can be seen we may not be able to release this information to the public under Data Protection Act.

I hope the above information is useful to you should you wish to request CCTV footage in the future. Please note that in order to avoid delays in seeking clarification we will also require the time, date and location to enable us to search for the required CCTV footage.

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