Help secure equal rights for road crime victims: act now!
Why? A case in point:
Earlier this year, John was hit from behind by a driver at a crossroads and badly injured. The incident was caught on CCTV. Instead of charging the driver – there was enough evidence to do so – the police sent him on an improvement course. Even if they had charged, it would have been for 'careless' not dangerous driving.
John had no right to access information about the police investigation or to get victim support. He also had no way of challenging the police decision not to prosecute.
As an elderly man, John’s injuries were far more serious than originally thought. His independence and quality of life have deteriorated, yet the driver is still allowed to drive wherever and whenever he pleases.
Changes proposed by the Government to the 'Code of Practice for Victims of Crime' (Victim’s Code) could mean that cyclists like John will be able to access information about a police investigation and victims' support services in future. What seem like quite small changes could have massive implications for victims of road crimes such as careless and drink driving.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is currently consulting on the suggested changes. CTC and other organisations including RoadPeace back them, but have responded by urging the Government to do more to ensure victims of road crime get the support and information they need (CTC's response can be downloaded below).
The proposals might be opposed by some worried about the financial impacts of treating the large numbers of victims of road crime as victims of crime. With your help, though, we can help persuade the Government to follow through on the proposed changes.
Please back CTC's response by sending an email to the Ministry of Justice! Please note this campaign has now ended.
Definition of 'victim'
The Government is proposing to broaden the definition of 'victim' to include victims of all motoring offences. This means that victims who are injured by careless driving and drink driving will be entitled to the services outlined in the Code. This includes the right to information about the investigation and about victims’ support services. They are currently not entitled to these rights.
CTC called for this change in the Road Justice campaign report, ‘The role of the police’.
Expanding the definition of victim would also mean that data on the number of people injured by careless and drink driving can be collected and reported on by the Government. In 2014, there were 14,839 drivers prosecuted for careless driving, but it is not known how many of these incidents resulted in injury.
Victims until the contrary is proven
The consultation does not clarify whether people injured in crashes will be treated as victims of crime until the contrary is proven or only once a charge has been made. For other types of crime, it is the former. CTC hopes the same principle will be applied to victims of road crime, and has called for this in its response.
Victims’ Right to Review
The consultation also mentions the new right to request a review of police charging decisions for serious offences. Before this came into force in April this year, victims had no way to challenge a police decision to take ‘no further action’ against a driver.
The bereaved relatives of Michael Mason, who was killed whilst cycling in London in 2014, were one of the families denied the opportunity to contest a police decision. The police chose not to charge the driver who hit Michael. Without a means to challenge this decision the family decided to prosecute the driver privately with the help of the Cyclists’ Defence Fund. They might not have needed to go down this route had the police decision been reviewed.
The right to review police decisions currently only applies to victims of National Crime Recorded Standards (NCRS), which exclude summary motoring offences. Thus victims of careless or drink driving are still denied this right. CTC has asked the Government to address this disparity.
Adhering to the Victims Code
The Government is proposing to add several organisations to the list of those that must adhere to the Code, including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). CTC has asked for Traffic Commissioners (the regulators of HGV operators) and Coroners to be added.
Take action now!
If you want to ensure road crash victims are not discriminated against any more, please send an email to the Ministry of Justice to ensure our improvements to the proposals are put into practice.
Click on this link to email the MoJ to express your support for CTC's calls. Please note this campaign has now ended and emails can no longer be sent to the MoJ.
Visit the Government's consultation hub for more information about the consultation and to read the draft code.
*** Update ***
Thanks to everyone who took part in the online action the Ministry of Justice would have been inundated with support for our proposals. 1,779 people used our online tool to write to the MoJ in just 3 days.