I ride with a headcam – can I use the footage?
“I ride with a headcam. In the event of an accident, can I use the footage to prosecute someone?”
A headcam is increasingly popular with horse riders. Whilst many drivers understand that horses can react adversely in traffic, unfortunately, some ignore the Highway Code of “Wide & Slow”. Other dangerous road users purposely try to scare horses. Many riders use head cams as a deterrent to this poor behaviour on the roads.
The footage from head cam is permissible evidence in civil and criminal courts. However, courts will determine if it is in the interests of justice to rely on such footage.
In a scenario where your horse is spooked and/or involved in an accident, you can report the incident to the Police. The CPS will consider all the evidence. They will prosecute if a prospect of proving the driver has committed an offence ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ exists. This is usually under the Public Order Act 1986 or a driving office under the Road Traffic Act 1988. It has to be in the public interest to do so. Therefore, even if you do have supportive footage, ultimately, the CPS will decide whether any criminal proceedings should follow. Although some private prosecutions have resulted in successful convictions, these can be prohibitively expensive.
To pursue a civil claim for monetary compensation for personal injury or damage to property (which includes your horse), the burden of proof is lower. You would need to prove that the accident was due to the negligence of the driver on the ‘balance of probabilities”. With the permission of the court, video evidence could be admissible in assisting to establish the events of the accident. Again, the court would determine the weight of such evidence.
Headcam footage can be useful evidence to prove facts or corroborate evidence of any incident. This evidence may assist the CPS to prosecute. It might also persuade a third- party insurer to concede liability on the part of the driver and settle any claim.