A government minister has said that a review of sentencing for dangerous driving offences is currently underway and that there will be a public phase of this ‘soon’. The comments came during a House of Commons debate resulting from a petition launched by the fiancées of two cyclists killed by a drunk driver last year.
Alok Sharma, the Conservative MP for Reading West, is pushing for a change in sentencing laws in the wake of a case involving two of his constituents, cyclists John Morland and Kris Jarvis, who were killed as a result of the dangerous driving of Alexander Walter last year.
The two men’s fiancées, Tracey Fidler and Hayley Lindsay, started an e-petition calling for a change so that a dangerous driver receives a maximum sentence of 14 years for each person they kill, with the sentences to be served consecutively, not concurrently. It had attracted over 102,000 signatures when it closed in March.
Speaking yesterday, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Andrew Selous, confirmed that a review of sentencing was currently underway and said that he hoped it would move to a public phase ‘soon’. He said that the government would do ‘everything possible to attract the widest public attention’ when this time came.
Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick also suggested that the language used to refer to such incidents needed to be addressed.
“In the fire service, in which I served, we used to talk about RTAs — road traffic accidents. They are now classified by the police and the fire service as RTCs — road traffic collisions. That language is important, because the majority of crashes, collisions and incidents have an avoidable cause: people drinking, taking drugs, speeding and using mobile phones. We are talking about deliberate decisions by human beings — drivers — that impact on innocent victims. In that sense, these are not accidents.”
A number of other MPs spoke on the issue and Fidler told Get Reading that she was pleased that so many had come out in support: “They all agreed with us. It kind of means everything to us. We needed to get justice for Kris and John and we needed to do something for others in this situation.”
“I am delighted to hear from the Minister that there will be a review outcome soon; I hope that that means before the end of this calendar year. I am delighted that it will be widely publicised, and I am pleased that it will require legislation, because that will give all of us the chance to debate these matters again in detail.
“He is absolutely right that judges decide sentences, but he has also made the important point that the framework for that is set by Parliament. That is what we are here to do, listening to the wishes of our constituents across the country.”