A new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has been launched today that will focus on the justice system’s response to road traffic collisions, including the investigation, prosecution and sentencing in such cases.
Set up with the help of the charity RoadPeace, the Justice on our Roads APPG is chaired by Green Party politician Jenny Jones, who earlier this year was created Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb.
The vice-chairs are Stephen Twigg, MP for Liverpool West, and Chris Skidmore, MP for Kingswood, who has been campaigning on behalf of the families of his constituents Ross and Clare Simons, killed on a tandem ride in January 2013 when they were hit by a car driven by a disqualified driver.
The group’s logo, in the picture above, provides a stark reminder of the human cost of collisions on the road; the word ‘Justice’ is formed by the names of the 112 cyclists who lost their lives on Great Britain’s roads in 2013.
According to the Department for Transport, in the 12 months to September 201, the latest period for which official data are available, 1,730 people lost their lives on Great Britain’s roads, while a further 21,650 were seriously injured.
Baroness Jones said: “Because there’s no premeditation, road crashes and road crime have traditionally been a low priority for our criminal justice system.
“This can lead to further devastation, including financial, for both the bereaved and injured, whether driver, pedestrian or cyclist.
“Improving the treatment of victims of crime is a key objective for the government. At a time when public spending is being reduced, it is critical that victims of road crime are not forgotten.”
She said that the chief aim of the APPG launched today “is to increase awareness of both the need and the opportunities to improve the justice system’s response to road crashes and road crime.
“It will focus on the post-crash response - collision investigation and inquests, criminal prosecution and sentencing, civil justice and services for victims of road crashes - but also cover the police’s role of traffic law enforcement in reducing danger on our roads.
Cynthia Barlow, chair of RoadPeace, whose daughter Alex was killed by a lorry in London in 2000, said: “Road deaths are not ‘accidents’, they are preventable and avoidable tragedies.
“Families bereaved by a road death need to know that what happened has been taken seriously, will be investigated properly, and that measures to prevent further similar tragedies will be implemented.
“At the moment that doesn’t happen. Road crime is still not seen as real crime by the justice system, with victims of road crime systematically neglected.
“Those killed and injured by law breaking drivers are not properly represented in the statistics, the new Victim’s Code does not apply to those injured by drink drivers, careless and speeding drivers, and in hit and run crashes and, if there is a criminal prosecution, the charge may not even mention the fact that someone has been seriously injured.
“We need to do better than this, to ensure that lessons are learned and appropriate action taken. The new APPG is a key part of that process.
“We are proud to have Baroness Jones as our Chair. Jenny has an extensive record campaigning on road safety and traffic law enforcement in London but her energy and dedication is needed nationally,” she added.
RoadPeace, together with organisations including British Cycling and CTC – which in June last year launched its own Road Justice campaign – have lobbied the government to look into how police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts handle cases where vulnerable road users such as cyclists or pedestrians are the victims.
Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron said that he had ordered a review of how the criminal justice system deals with such cases, although that has not yet been concluded.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.