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Frequently Asked Questions

Many questions can be answered by visiting the national www.askthe.police.uk/ website or if this information is not specific enough to Essex Police, by visiting www.essex.police.uk/rcr

I have been involved in a road collision do I have to report it?

This will depend on whether injury has been caused to any person and/or whether you have provided the required details at the scene of the incident. The Road Traffic Act 1988 (section 170) explains this fully.

If your (motorised) vehicle is involved in an accident you need to take the following steps to ensure you do not break the law.

Your duties are to stop, to give information, in some cases to produce your insurance certificate and in some cases to report the accident to the police.

Further Detail

If, as a driver, you are involved in a road-traffic accident and one or more of the following occurs:

  • a person, other than yourself, is injured,
  • damage is caused to another vehicle or to someone else’s property
  • an animal has been killed or injured, except in your own vehicle or trailer (an ‘animal’ is defined as ‘any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog’)

You must:

  • stop and remain at the scene for a reasonable period
  • give your vehicle registration number, your name and address, and that of the vehicle owner (if different), to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking for those details
  • If you do not exchange those details at the scene, you must report the accident at a police station or to a police constable as soon as you can, and in any case within 24 hours.

In the case of injuries

Where injury is caused to another person, then in addition to the above you must also:

Produce your certificate of insurance, if anyone at the scene has reasonable grounds to see it. If you do not, you must report the accident at a police station or to a constable as soon as is practicable and in any case within 24 hours. You’ll need to produce your certificate of insurance.

Even if there was no injury involved, if someone holds you responsible for the accident, they have the right to request your insurance details. This request can be made later; it does not necessarily have to be at the time of the accident. A failure to provide that information without a reasonable excuse is also an offence.

How do I report a road collision/accident to the police?

If you did not comply with the requirement to stop and give details, produce your insurance (if injury caused) it is a legal requirement that you report the collision/accident in person at a police station as soon as is possible and in any case within 24 hours.

Reports of an accident/collision cannot be made by phone, post or e-mail – they must be made in person and within 24 hours.

Who is the officer investigating my collision?

If an officer attended the incident they would probably have provided you with their collar/badge number and name.  If the matter was reported at a police station it may be several days before an officer is allocated and this officer may be involved in other investigations etc. and not immediately able to contact you.

If the incident was one where there was no requirement in law to report the collision and an officer did not attend the scene; it is possible that no further investigation will be undertaken.  You should be informed of this by an officer.

You should expect an investigating officer to make contact with you and provide their details; however this may take some weeks dependent on the nature of the collision.

What is the progress of the investigation into my collision?

With few exceptions, only the investigating officer can provide updates on enquiries in hand.

If the matter has proceeded to a prosecution, a witness care officer from a joint police/CPS Criminal Justice Unit is likely to keep you updated direct.

I am trying to get hold of the officer investigating my accident how can I do this?

As you may expect; Essex Police strives to keep its officers as visible as possible on the streets – equipping them with the latest mobile technology to achieve this.

For this reason it is likely that the officer cannot be contacted directly by phone and instead a message may need to be left.

If you know the collar/badge number of the officer or their full name you can e-mail them direct; i.e. [email protected] or [email protected]

I would like to request third party details

These may only be obtained by the submission of Form RCA518 and the relevant fee.

Please visit www.essex.police.uk/rcr for further information

I would like a copy of the collision report

These may only be obtained by the submission of Form RCA518 and the relevant fee.

A report will only be made available once the police investigation is considered complete.

Please visit www.essex.police.uk/rcr for further information

Is the other party being prosecuted?

The investigating officer should have informed you if any persons have been charged or reported for the issue of a summons in respect of the incident.

The joint police/CPS Witness Care team will seek to keep interested parties updated with the progress of any prosecution.

What is the court date/court result?

If the matter has proceeded to court; this information can be provided by the joint police/Witness Care team of the Essex Police Criminal Justice and Offender Management Department.

Ordinarily witnesses are provided with automatic updated by this team.

How do I contact the Road Collision Records section?

Please visit www.essex.police.uk/rcr for details on how to contact us.

Most enquiries cannot be progressed by telephone and will require written contact to be made (we are working to introduce on-line communication as a matter of priority).

I have been involved in accident but I did not report the accident to the police. The other party is now refusing to disclose their insurance details, what can I do?

Contact your insurance company who should make the necessary enquiries in the first instance. Once the enquiries have been completed and they are satisfied that the person does not have insurance, they should advise you to report the matter to the police who may be able to trace the other person.

It would be helpful if you could supply the registration number, make and model of the vehicle and the name and address of the other person if you were given it at the scene. If the person is traced they will be prosecuted for any relevant road traffic offence(s).

You can also take out civil proceeding against the other driver in order to try and reclaim the cost of any damage to your car. If you have legal protection as part of your cover your insurance company will be able to advise you on this matter.

If you have suffered any form of personal injury, loss or damage to your property, as a result of the accident and the other person cannot be traced or is uninsured, you may be able to obtain compensation through the Motor Insurers Bureau:

Motor Insurers Bureau
152 Silbury Boulevard
Central Milton Keynes
MK9 1NG
Telephone: 01908 830001

I have been provided third party details from Essex Police but discovered that they are uninsured what can I do?

Contact your insurance company who should make the necessary enquiries in the first instance.

Once the enquiries have been completed and they are satisfied that the person does not have insurance, they should advise you to report the matter at a police station.  The police may then investigate the possible offence of no insurance and, if appropriate, bring a prosecution.

However Essex Police cannot assist in seeking compensation from an uninsured driver.

I do not agree with the contents of a copy of the police report what can I do?

The police report is made for police purposes during the investigation of a collision; primarily to consider whether any offences are disclosed which should proceed to court.  It does not seek to apportion civil liability or fully determine the culpability of any party.

Copies of any police reports are therefore provided to interested parties merely to assist in the conducting of civil claims for damages. Ultimately it would be for a civil court to determine the probability of any claim.

The police report remains precisely that: a report for police purposes which addresses the probable circumstances of a collision and whether offences may have been committed and if so whether a prosecution is likely to succeed.

I wish to make a complaint how do I do this?

If you wish to make a complaint against a police officer you may do so in writing or by phone.

However it may be that a supervising officer may be able to assuage any concerns you have and you can ask to be contacted by a sergeant direct.

Why does Essex Police charge for collision information?

Essex Police incurs costs in attending and dealing with collisions, recording the circumstances of an incident and managing associated administration, including the costs of IT systems, stationery, postage and staff costs.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) publishes guideline fees for police services; collision information is amongst these services.  Essex Police publishes its fees annually and can be downloaded here.

Being involved in a road collision is both distressing and frightening but it’s important to think clearly and take the necessary actions while the incident is still clear in your mind.

At the scene

The first thing you MUST do at the scene of a collision is stop.

You should then try and do as many of the following before leaving the scene while the incident is fresh in your mind:

  • Call for an ambulance if someone is injured and the police if the road is blocked or you need help.
  • Note down the names and addresses of any witnesses.
  • Make notes about how the collision happened while it’s fresh in your mind. This will help you make a statement later.
  • Take a photograph if possible, perhaps using your mobile phone.
  • Be prepared to give your name, address and insurance details to others involved.
  • Note down the names and addresses of other parties as well as their vehicle registration numbers.

Later

After the collision, you'll need to think about doing the following:

  • Inform your insurance company regardless of whether or not a claim is to be made.
  • Produce your driving documents at a police station if you are asked to do so.
  • If you did not give your name and address at the scene you must report the collision to police within 24 hours.

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