Ian Austin

Independent for Dudley North

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Austin calls for tougher laws to tackle criminal driving

Dudley MP Ian Austin has added his name to a Bill that seeks to bring in tougher penalties for those who drive dangerously and risk lives of innocent road users and pedestrians.

Austin is backing the Criminal Driving (Justice for Victims) Bill together with 30 MPs from all parties.

The Bill has calls for longer sentences, the redefinition of criminal driving, tighter bail conditions, and higher standards for police investigations. The Bill also sets out proposals to improve the treatment of victims and their families.

According to the most recent government figures 389 people were killed due to dangerous driving in 2014-15. Austin has worked with campaign groups for a long time to argue that sentences are too light and do not reflect the severity of offences.

An ongoing review by the Ministry of Justice into driving offences is expected to produce a consultation document later this year into potential legislative changes that are likely to follow in 2017.

Ian Austin said:

“Too many victims and their families have been let down by weak penalties for dangerous driving.

“Hundreds are killed by dangerous driving every year, so we need tougher sentences and thorough investigations to send the message that this is a serious offence.

“That’s why I am pushing for the Government to adopt these measures as part of this new Criminal Driving Bill.”

Alice Bailey, Campaigns and Communications Officer at road safety charity Brake, also added:

“We’re very pleased to see Ian helping to lead the Criminal Driving Bill and fight for victims of criminal driving and their families.

“We have long believed that our legal system gives them a raw deal and that’s why it is vital Parliament brings forward some much needed changes.

“The Criminal Driving Bill contains many of these changes and we hope to continue working with Ian on this hugely important issue.”

Criminal Driving (Justice for Victims) Bill

A Bill to make provision to strengthen penalties related to serious criminal driving offences that lead to serious injury or death; to redefine such offences and amend bail conditions for those charged with them; to enhance the standards of investigation, both by the police and in the Courts, into such offences; to improve the treatment of victims of such offences and their families within the justice system; and for connected purposes.

Key points of the Bill

  • Redefining criminal driving
  • Replace the charges of Careless Driving and Dangerous Driving with a single charge
  • Scrap the charge of causing Death by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving
  • Increase the maximum penalty for Dangerous Driving from 2 years to 5 years
  • Scrap the charge of Causing Death by Careless Driving under the influence of drink or drugs
  • Increase the maximum sentence for Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving from 5 years to 14 years
  • Increase the maximum sentence for failing to stop following a fatal or serious injury crash – to bring in much stiffer penalties for hit and run drivers
  • Increase the maximum sentence for Causing Death by and Causing Serious Injuries by Driving Unlicensed, Disqualified or Uninsured from 2 years to 14 years
  • Tougher sentencing within the range of sentences available
  • Change the sentencing guidelines so that sentences for multiple deaths must no longer run concurrently
  • Tougher sentences for those driving while disqualified
  • Making driving licence suspension an automatic condition of bail in cases of dangerous and careless drivers who have seriously injured or killed
  • Victims in cases where charges of criminal driving are brought must be treated as victims of crime until the contrary is proven
  • Appropriate investigation of collisions
  • Proper implementation of the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice (APP) on investigating road deaths and more rigorous training based on it
  • Implementing the recommendations of the 2002 report by the CPS Inspectorate
  • Government should introduce national standards requiring judges and magistrates to receive appropriate training and advice on traffic offences, including discussion of case studies, to encourage them to implement appropriately tough charges and penalties
  • An independent and transparent assessment of offender’s punishment
  • Release evidence to victims and their families
  • Change the rules on how an offender “shows remorse” in a way that can lead to sentence reduction
  • The Department for Transport should stop describing incidents of criminal driving as “accidents”
  • Police forces should be obliged to implement recommendations of the IPCC

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