Cameron confirms sentencing guidelines review for dangerous driving offences

Sentencing guidelines for serious driving offences to be reviewed
Cycling UK has welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron's confirmation during Prime Minister's questions on 9 October 2013 that the Government will conduct a review of sentencing guidelines for serious driving offences.

Cycling UK reported on the Government’s announcement in August 2013 that the sentencing guidelines would be reviewed for the offences of causing death by careless driving, causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

In Prime Minister’s questions this week, David Cameron stated that the Sentencing Council has been directed to review sentencing guidelines for serious driving offences, which includes careless and dangerous driving, and causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured.  

Sentencing guidelines review

Mr Cameron’s announcement was made in response to a question from Chris Skidmore, MP for Kingswood, the constituency where Ross and Clare Simons were killed in January whilst out riding their tandem. The driver who killed the couple, Nicky Lovell, had 11 previous convictions for driving whilst disqualified and was disqualified at the time. He received the maximum sentence possible for the deaths - 10.5 years in prison and a lifetime driving ban - which the couple's family felt was not sufficient.

Mr Skidmore informed the Prime Minister that over 8,000 people in Kingswood signed a petition calling for the law to be changed so that drivers convicted of dangerous driving while disqualified receive tougher sentences. Mr Skidmore asked whether the PM would receive the petition and whether he agreed that sentencing law for driving offences should be examined.

Mr Cameron confirmed that the Sentencing Council has been directed by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to review sentencing guidelines for serious driving offences and that Ross and Clare’s case would be looked into.

A review of sentences for serious driving offences means that sentencing for both careless and dangerous driving will be re-examined. This is a big step forward from the Government's original announcement that only three serious offences would be reviewed.

Rhia Weston, Cycling UK's Road Safety Campaigner

Cycling UK welcomes Cameron's backing

Cycling UK has long called for a review of sentencing guidelines for serious driving offences, so is very pleased that this review has David Cameron’s backing. Cycling UK recently met with the Sentencing Council to discuss a review and will seek clarification of the exact offences to be reviewed in upcoming meetings. The Council intends to begin a consultation on sentencing for driving offences in Autumn 2014.  

Cycling UK and its partners in the Road Justice campaign feel that much greater use should be made of long driving bans, so that jurors would hopefully be more willing to convict drivers for errors they feel they could have easily made themselves. Long prison sentences should be made available for drivers like Nicky Lovell, who repeatedly drive dangerously or persistently flout driving bans. Read Cycling UK's briefing on the legal framework and sentencing policy for Cycling UK's views on sentencing.