Last week, Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds NW launched the Manifesto for Better Justice for Victims of Criminal Driving and Their Families.
The main points:
- Replace the charges of Careless Driving and Dangerous Driving with a single charge – “Prosecutors appear to be opting for lesser careless driving charges because it is easier to secure a conviction, even when a dangerous driving charge may appear to be more appropriate, for example when the death has clearly resulted from illegal and risky behaviour, such as driving on drugs, without a licence, while using a mobile, or speeding. Driving that has killed or caused serious harm is inherently dangerous, not merely ‘careless’,and that the term ‘careless’ undermines the gravitas of the offence.
- Increase maximum sentence thus:
- Increase the maximum penalty for Dangerous Driving from 2 years to 5 years
- Increase the maximum sentence for Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving from 5 years to 14 years
- Increase the maximum sentence for failing to stop following a fatal or serious injury crash – to bring in much stiffer penalties for hit and run drivers
- Increase the maximum sentence for Causing Death by and Causing Serious Injuries by Driving Unlicensed, Disqualified or Uninsured from 2 years to 14 years
- Tougher sentences for those driving while disqualified
- Making driving licence suspension an automatic condition of bail in cases of dangerous and careless drivers who have seriously injured or killed. “Drivers who kill and maim should be taken off the road once they are charged, as a condition of bail. If you are a teacher being investigated for misconduct, you are immediately suspended from teaching in school to protect pupils. If you are a doctor suspected of malpractice, you are immediately suspended from practising medicine to ensure no patients are harmed. Yet if you are charged with seriously injuring or killing someone because of your bad driving, you are allowed to keep driving until you are sentenced in court, despite the fact that nine in 10 drivers (89%) charged with indictable motoring offences, such as causing death by driving, are convicted”
- After a fatal collision, there must not be undue police pressure to clear the roads and the police must also be more empowered to confiscate vehicles. Do you hear that, Boris Johnson?
- Officers and investigators must be thoroughly trained and regularly tested on their knowledge
- Appoint an experienced prosecutor to receive specialist training in driving offences in each Crown Prosecution Service area
- Government should introduce national standards requiring judges and magistrates to receive appropriate training and advice on traffic offences, including discussion of case studies, to encourage them to implement appropriately tough charges and penalties
- Independent review of CPS decisions not to charge or to charge for a lesser offence that the victim’s family deems appropriate
- The Department for Transport should stop describing incidents of criminal driving as “accidents”
- Police forces should be obliged to implement recommendations of the IPCC At present, in the unlikely event that the toothless IPCC rules against the Police, the latter can simply ignore the ruling
The manifesto has been sent to Home Secretary Theresa May, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. Put together with cross-party support, the manifesto has also been sent to all MPs and all three of the main political parties.
Vision Zero urges all readers to write to their own MP and ask them to support the Manifesto. It is an important step to change the culture of the Police and the Judiciary, so that they start treating traffic violence, the number one cause of killing in London, seriously.