Road Justice campaign meets with Sentencing Council

Victims rarely feel justice is done when a driver is sentenced
CTC's Road Justice campaign, along with partners British Cycling and RoadPeace, met this week with the Sentencing Council to discuss the forthcoming review of sentencing guidelines for driving offences.

Drivers are being treated excessively leniently by the justice system, particularly at the point of sentencing, which demonstrates it is in need of a complete overhaul. 

The Government announced a review of the guidelines last year but has since postponed the review until the Ministry of Justice has revised current legislation concerning motoring offences.

CTC's Campaigns and Policy director, Roger Geffen, and Road Justice coordinator, Rhia Weston, met with Michelle Crotty, head of the Sentencing Council to put forward suggestions for improved sentencing that actually deters bad driving and takes bad drivers that maim or kill off the roads.

As it stands, the sentencing review will only cover sentences for causing death and serious injury by driving offences. CTC is pushing for the review to also cover 'careless' and 'dangerous' driving, arguing that baseline sentences must be reassessed before sentences for more serious offences are looked at.  

In cases where driving is not reckless or intentionally dangerous, CTC wants judges to make greater use of substantial driving bans and other non-custodial options such as restorative justice and community orders. In cases where driving is reckless or deliberately dangerous, judges should favour custodial sentences, long driving bans and extended re-tests.

Sentencing must discourage bad driving and remove persistent bad drivers from the roads, which it currently fails to do. We are glad that the Sentencing Council are open to our suggestions and willing to continue the dialogue about how sentencing can be improved.

Rhia Weston, Road Justice campaign coordinator

The Road Justice campaign will be launching a report examining sentencing for driving offences in the Spring and will hold a debate on sentencing, which the Sentencing Council have agreed to attend, in June. 

Examples of lenient sentences

There are numerous cases where cyclists have been killed or injured by a bad driver, yet the driver has received a derisory sentence: 

-  Tony Hilson was killed in Berkshire in 2012 by a driver who had 'driven blind' for 20 seconds whilst she fiddled with her satnav. She was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and sentenced to an 18 month custodial sentence (she will be released after only 4 and a half months) and two and a half year driving ban, of a possible 14 year sentence and unlimited ban. 

David Hall was killed in Lincoln in 2013. This week the driver was sentenced to a six month suspended sentence and a mere 12 month ban for causing death by careless driving.

Julian Evans was killed in Suffolk in 2012 by a driver who would have had 11 seconds to see him. The driver was sentenced to a six month suspended sentence, banned for just 12 months and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.