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Smile, you're on camera!

January 27, 2016 at 9:20 AM

Just weeks ago the UK saw a legal first, with the first dangerous driver being jailed as a result of evidence collected from dash-cam footage. This case highlighted the impact that personal cameras are having on road safety, and 2016 looks to be no different. Footage from dash-cams can not only help avoid disputes and catch dangerous drivers, but could help with settling insurance claims.

Cycling with a helmet camera

Deterring dangerous driving?

Although traditionally used for sports enthusiasts capturing their thrills and spills, helmet-cams have become a way of making cycling safer by recording the actions of others on the road. Any commuter who cycles to work understands just how dangerous the journey can be; drivers are often known to cut off cyclists, fail to indicate when turning and drive in cycle lanes. These cameras provide viewers with the cyclists' point of view, clearly showing the actions of those captured.

The ability to gather hard evidence, whoever you are, many would argue is also having a very real effect on both driver and cyclist safety. The fact that bad drivers can be caught on camera could now be considered a very real deterrent to reckless driving. Although we see more cars than any other vehicle on our roads, it is important to remember that road safety is determined by a number of different vehicles and factors. For those on two wheels, Britain's roads are still unsafe with the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in Britain having increased in 2014 by 8%.

Should we publically name and shame?

For both dash- and helmet-cams, users have taken to uploading their footage to YouTube and other video sharing platforms in order to highlight dangerous interactions on the roads of the UK. There have been a number of well-documented occurrences of cyclists, but also drivers, posting road rage incidents online to name and shame drivers. With the first driver being prosecuted as a result of dash-cam footage this can seem like a brilliant idea to achieve results. The police across the UK now take camera footage seriously and are becoming more used to dealing with it as evidence. However, it is important to proceed with caution. You can land yourself in trouble through filming faces of members of the public, and it is imperative to remember that even if you delete uploaded footage or a comment from the internet, that does not mean that someone hasn't already shared or copied it.

Dashboard camera mounted in a car

Vigilance still required

These types of cameras can feel like protective gear and may result in some feeling invincible or overconfident, which can be very dangerous. Both dash-cams and helmet-cams are just recording devices and shouldn’t be viewed in this way. Cameras will not prevent accidents or serious injury on the road and it is important to remain alert and take safety precautions whether you are in a car or on a bike. Ensuring you follow the Highway Code is a basic safety precaution that should always be adhered to, and for cyclists it is important to wear high visibility clothing and a good helmet to ensure your wellbeing. Relying on your common sense and not being distracted are crucial for everyone using the UK roads.

Cameras are an advancing technology that have provided both cyclists and drivers with a powerful tool to increase safety, and can protect from false claims and ensure justice is served. This influential conviction should empower those promoting the safety of our roads, but users of cameras should remain vigilant and not promote a false sense of security. How do you think cameras have changed safety on our roads?


About the author

Amy Smitheringale PhotoAmy Smitheringale is a Solicitor with more than 16 years experience in civil litigation. Amy is the manager of a team of litigators at Spencers Solicitors who deal with a wide variety of personal injury claims including accidents on the road.

Amy's last blog was Staying Safe at Summer Festivals.

Posted in: Blog

Tags: ,

Do your children practice safe swimming?

January 11, 2016 at 10:06 AM

A report by the Amateur Swimming Association found that nearly 1,300 primary schools didn't offer swimming lessons at Key Stage 2 (KS2) and almost half of primary school children in England are unable to swim a length unaided.

Such statistics are worrying, as swimming is a potentially vital life-saving skill for children and adults alike and it is important that it remains a core ability. Therefore, I wanted to share some of my experience and offer advice on how swimming at your local pool can be a safe and rewarding activity.

Children learning to swim

Swimming Pool Safety Guidelines

You may be surprised to learn that there are no specific health and safety laws for swimming pools and swimming pool operators are expected to 'make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the health and safety risks to workers and users to help decide what they must do to make their pool safe'.

As there is no compulsory guidance for what every public swimming bath should have by way of safety measures, it leads to procedures being different pool to pool.

Therefore before going swimming it is important to do a little homework on the leisure centre and pool you are choosing to visit. Some things it can be wise to check:

•  Opening times and the pool programme. Most large pools have time slots dedicated to certain activities, so it's well worth selecting a session that matches what you are planning to do (lane swimming, diving boards, flume/slides, adults only, learner pool etc.)

•  Ratio of responsible persons. For the supervision of children, one adult to every two children may be needed in the pool.

•  Pool Hygiene. Shower requirements before entering the pool and any medical restrictions.

•  Disabled Access. Location of hoists and pool entrances.

Lifeguard on duty at swimming pool

Poolside Safety and Avoiding Accidents

We've all seen the safety signs at swimming pools and you may think that the biggest dangers in the water are 'bombing' and 'heavy petting'!

But unfortunately this isn't the case and even the most well supervised and maintained leisure facilities and swimming pools can cause injury.

Thankfully drowning deaths in the UK are their lowest level since records began, down in no small part to the quality of lifeguards and staff first aid training.

Any floor or equipment defect can cause injury but when you add water into the environment these risks become heightened. As such it can be hazards outside of the water that can pose the greatest risks of injury at a swimming pool, so you need to be cautious of:

•  Broken tiles around the pool or changing area

•  Defective equipment such as ladders, diving boards and slides

•  Inaccurate pool depths

•  Lack of supervision - do not swim if there isn't a lifeguard on duty

Getting Children Swimming Safely

My children love to swim and my daughter, Chloe, is a member of the local swimming club, so trips to the swimming baths and regional competitions are a regular occurrence.

The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) recommends that a child should spend at least 25 hours in the pool to give them sufficient opportunity to learn the basic swimming skills and confidence of being around water. Given that primary schools are falling well short of this total, it could be worth sourcing your own swimming lessons.

I found the best way to teach my children to swim was enrolling them in my local swim school. These junior swim school sessions generally have more supervising lifeguards, specialist instructors and buoyancy aids designed specifically with young, inexperienced swimmers in mind.

A child can drown in less than 5cm of water, which is a very sobering thought. It brings home the importance of them learning this vital life skill and knowing how to stay safe whilst still having fun!

Be Safe in the Water

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and fun. Following this simple guidance will ensure that it is an activity that whole family can enjoy. I learnt to swim at my local leisure centre and it's an activity that has remained with me as an excellent form of exercise.

Being safe in and around water is not only a vital life skill for children.....if you can't swim it's never too late to learn!


Do you have any tips on safe swimming? Please share them in the comments.


About the author

Katherine Stennett photoKatherine Stennett is manager of the firm' Accounts Team and a Fellow of the Association of Accounting Technicians. She has worked within the legal industry for over 20 years.

Posted in: Blog


Martyn Gilbert wins Non-Lawyer of the Year at Modern Law Awards

November 25, 2015 at 3:42 PM

National recognition for Spencers Solicitors CIO at industry awards that celebrate the most dynamic players in the legal services arena

Thursday 19th November saw The Modern Law Awards reveal their 2015 award winners at a glittering London ceremony, and Spencers are thrilled to announce that Chief Information Officer Martyn Gilbert walked away with the award for non-lawyer of the year.

Both Martyn and Spencers CEO Rob Landman attended the evening's ceremony, which saw a champagne reception and dinner followed by the awards announcements and a night of entertainment. Renowned comedian Jimmy Carr was on hand to host the evening's proceedings, and with sponsor Mark Hartigan of Just Costs presented Martyn with his award.

Martyn Gilbert, with Jimmy Carr and Mark Hartigan being prsented with awardMartyn Gilbert being presented with 'Non Lawyer of the Year' at the Modern Law Awards 2015 by comedian Jimmy Carr and Mark Hartigan of Just Costs Solicitors.

The Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards is an annual industry-wide event, which looks to identify and celebrate outstanding talent and success in the modern legal services arena. Martyn has been recognised for his crucial role in driving growth and development within Spencers Solicitors, including his dedication to building legal processes and systems that have enabled the firm to revolutionise client experience.

In a difficult personal injury market he has developed unique business processes that have allowed the firm to move away from introducer-fed clients, with 60% of work now generated direct. Through reorienting the practice to offer legal services directly to the public he has developed a strong online presence focusing on providing relevant information to injured people and simplifying the claim process. Along with a 40% rise in online visitors who now make an enquiry, Martyn has also nurtured a strong firm-wide understanding of a client's journey in selecting a legal service provider.

Commenting on Martyn's win, Spencers Solicitors CEO Rob Landman said:

"We can think of no one more deserving than Martyn for this award. His role in transforming the way we approach our business, and building the firm to the position it holds today, has been pivotal. His passion and technical leadership benefits and supports both our lawyers and our clients, and he is a driving force in enabling us to go above and beyond in every case we undertake."

The Modern Law Awards offer the industry an opportunity to celebrate both innovative business leaders and those changing the face of business strategy and development, regulation management and client care throughout their organisation.

The awards ceremony took place The Hurlingham Club, London.

Modern Law Awards 2015 Winner - Non Lawyer of the Year

Posted in: News


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