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Public supports tougher criminal driving sentences

Nine out of ten people want law-breaking drivers who kill charged with manslaughter, and road safety charity, Brake, calls on government to act

Nine in ten people want criminal drivers who kill charged with manslaughter, according to a survey commissioned by road safety charity, Brake.

The survey, launching the charity’s Roads to Justice campaign, indicates strong support for strengthening both charges and sentences faced by law breaking drivers, with 91 per cent of respondents saying drivers who kill under the influence of drink or drugs should be charged with manslaughter, which carries a life sentence.

Of 1,000 people surveyed, 66 per cent say drivers who kill should be jailed for a minimum of ten years, while 84 per cent say drivers who kill while breaking laws should be charged with dangerous, and not careless driving. Brake says the judicial system often turns its back on bereaved families, by giving killer drivers “insultingly low sentences”. 

Has the government's promised driving offences review been shelved?

Joseph Brown-Lartey died when a driver ran a red light at more than 80mph in a 30mph zone.

His parents, Ian and Dawn Brown-Lartey, who are supporting Brake's campaign, said: “We will never get over the loss of our beautiful son Joseph, who had his whole life ahead of him. Hearing that his killer will serve half of a six-year sentence was a further slap in the face to us and our family.”

“The law needs to change so that sentences for causing death by dangerous driving reflect the crime.”

Joseph’s car (pictured), which was split in two in the crash, is being put on public display and brought to the House of Commons today, with the help of Greater Manchester Police.

“We want people to see that devastation first hand in the hope of educating young drivers but also to hit home with the government the importance of our campaign,” the Brown-Larteys said.

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, said: “There are too many families, like the Brown-Larteys, who suffer the double trauma of losing a loved one in a sudden and violent way, and then witness the judicial system turning its back on them.

“That’s why we’re launching our Roads to Justice campaign, which calls on government to get tough on criminal drivers who kill or seriously injure others. We believe the public are behind us, judging from our survey results.

“People we work with tell us they are left feeling betrayed by the use of inappropriately-termed charges and lenient sentences. Drivers who kill while taking illegal risks are too often labelled ‘careless’ in the eyes of the law, and then given insultingly low sentences when their actions can only be described as dangerous and destructive.”

In 2014 176 p eople were charged with “causing death by dangerous driving” and 205 were charged with “causing death by careless driving”. Brake believes all careless driving is dangerous as the potential consequences of inattention could be fatal.

A petition, started by Brake, calling on strengthened sentencing for drivers who kill and seriously injured, has more than 3,000 signatures.

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14 comments

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severs1966 | 7 years ago
0 likes

Interesting to note that the iconic image chosen to represent victimhood is a smashed-up CAR.

Because the driving public would take no notice at all of bike riders being victims, and BRAKE know this.

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burtthebike | 7 years ago
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Nice to see Brake keeping up with the cycling groups "Roads to Justice" campaign?  Or the "Road Justice" campaign as run by Cycling UK http://www.roadjustice.org.uk/

That said, repeating the message can't hurt.

The real problem isn't the sentencing of dangerous/inattentive/inconsiderate drivers, it is the possibility of being caught.  We can all feel that much heavier sentencing of such drivers will have an effect, but in real life it doesn't, but increasing the chances of being caught does have an effect, so campaigning for heavier sentences is approaching the problem from the wrong direction.

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Gus T | 7 years ago
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Seriously, has anyone actually read why this is taking place, it's because our PM designate, who states she will stand up for the little man, promised to review sentencing and then quickly forgot it. Sign of times to come I'm afraid.

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ct | 7 years ago
0 likes

Why not just get rid of the careless/dangerous bit...manslaughter or murder? GBH, aggravated things and so on.

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sswindells replied to ct | 7 years ago
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ct wrote:

Why not just get rid of the careless/dangerous bit...manslaughter or murder? GBH, aggravated things and so on.

Its about intent and burdens of proof. GBH / Murder it has to be proven the act was done fully intending to take that persons life. Very hard to prove which would mean more difficult to get any justice. Careless/Dangerous just give that lower threshold to deal with those cases that fall below that level. The issues are more to do with sentencing and being given lenient sentences (IIRC as I have forgotten the main points of the article ) not necessarily the conviction for the crime. The sentence structure could be changed and then the maximum / intermediate sentences used more regularly instead of the ministry of justice guidance which has the problem it can limit Judges sentencing powers. 

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vonhelmet replied to ct | 7 years ago
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ct wrote:

Why not just get rid of the careless/dangerous bit...manslaughter or murder? GBH, aggravated things and so on.

Careless and dangerous driving offences were introduced because juries didn't convict on manslaughter or other charges if the perpetrator was in a car at the time. Of course now juries don't convict on careless and dangerous driving, so we can't win.

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GREGJONES | 7 years ago
2 likes

I can't wait for driverless cars

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Gus T replied to GREGJONES | 7 years ago
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GREGJONES wrote:

I can't wait for driverless cars

Come up to Hull, all RTI's are reported in the local rag as driverless, today's quota here http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/transit-van-smashes-into-cars-and-house-w...

 

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Gourmet Shot replied to GREGJONES | 7 years ago
2 likes
GREGJONES wrote:

I can't wait for driverless cars

 

Me too.  I will be spending my time riding in the middle of the road knowing full well the driveless car will not attempt to hit me and/or let the driver try to run me over.....it will be Nirvana !!!

 

 

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bendertherobot | 7 years ago
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I wonder if the survey explained to people the reason for the introduction of the "death by" offences and the comparable maximum sentences?

It's not necessarily the lack of use of a manslaughter charge it's the sentencing. But that sentencing is carried out correctly by reference to existing guidelines in the majority of cases. That it may need to be adjusted is true, but that will have a knock on effect for other offences as well.

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Dnnnnnn | 7 years ago
4 likes

People say many things in surveys but act differently when on a jury, when faced with someone much like themselves, who was just a bit "unlucky", and it wasn't an innocent little kiddie that was killed - it was just a cyclist, and we all know what they're like...

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brooksby replied to Dnnnnnn | 7 years ago
1 like
Duncann wrote:

People say many things in surveys but act differently when on a jury, when faced with someone much like themselves, who was just a bit "unlucky", and it wasn't an innocent little kiddie that was killed - it was just a cyclist, and we all know what they're like...

Ah, but you see, they're only talking about stiffer sentences for drivers who kill *other motorists * here, aren't they?

Otherwise more people would be questioning the poor decisions made by juries and judges if 90% support stiffer sentences...

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sswindells replied to brooksby | 7 years ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:
Duncann wrote:

People say many things in surveys but act differently when on a jury, when faced with someone much like themselves, who was just a bit "unlucky", and it wasn't an innocent little kiddie that was killed - it was just a cyclist, and we all know what they're like...

Ah, but you see, they're only talking about stiffer sentences for drivers who kill *other motorists * here, aren't they?

Otherwise more people would be questioning the poor decisions made by juries and judges if 90% support stiffer sentences...

 

I think it's more pedestrians or other motorists. I would be interested if you gave them same circumstances about a cyclist and whether it received the same support on prosecution. That being said I fully support stronger sentencing. We now need the prisons to house them.

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hawkinspeter | 7 years ago
5 likes

Wouldn't it be easier/more effective to just get everyone to wear helmets and hi-viz all of the time? Leave the poor innocent drivers alone.

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