CYCLING groups have called on Sussex Police to go undercover to catch motorists who drive too close to cyclists.

It comes as a lorry driver became one of the first people to be prosecuted for driving too close to cyclists after being caught by a plain-clothed cyclist.

The scheme is being successfully used by police officers in the West Midlands and sees officers pedalling the roads on the lookout for motorists who pass too close for comfort.

But now cyclists in Brighton and Hove are calling for Sussex Police to adopt the scheme.

Becky Reynolds, from the cycling campaign group Bricycles, said: “Although Sussex Police’s Operation Crackdown allows cyclists to report anti-social driving, there is nothing that beats a policeman on a bike being overtaken too closely and dealing with that incident first hand.

“We have called on Sussex Police to adopt the West Midlands Police initiative and we as cyclists would benefit from more involvement from the police.”

Last week a truck driver in Birmingham was handed a hefty fine after being found guilty of dangerously overtaking a cyclist - becoming one of the first in the country to be convicted of the offence.

The 60-year-old man was landed with fines and costs totalling £1,038 and given five points on his licence.

West Midlands Police’s #GiveSpaceBeSafe scheme was launched last September and has halved complaints of dangerous overtaking by cyclists.

Those people who drove too close to the officers were pulled over, and through the use of a safe pass mat, officers demonstrated to them what they had done wrong. In the worst cases drivers were reported for careless driving.

National cycling charity Cycling UK raised more than £14,000 to provide all forces with a safe pass mat, including Sussex Police. The force also attended a training and Q&A session in Birmingham.

Sam Jones, Cycling UK campaigner, said: “Close passes for cyclists are almost a daily occurrence, and while usually done from a position of ignorance rather than malice by the driver, are very threatening for the cyclist.

“Ideally we’d like to see Sussex run an education and enforcement operation like West Midlands Police, however even an education-only operation at this stage will help get the message out there how to overtake vulnerable road users safely.”

Five other areas in the UK are trialling the scheme. Hampshire Police have commissioned feasibility studies into introducing the initiative in their area

Sussex Safer Road Partnership, which brings together Sussex Police and local councils to make our roads safer, said they are conducting research to see if the scheme would benefit Sussex.

A spokeswoman said: "We have procured a Close Pass mat for educational purposes, but we are not currently implementing the Close Pass scheme set up by West Midlands Police. 

"We are looking at the data in Sussex to see whether the scheme would benefit cycling safety, but this initial research may take some time.

"Whilst this scheme works well for WMP, we are not able to simply mirror it in Sussex without researching it first."