Cycling Charity challenges the police over tougher road justice
The launch of the campaign, which is supported by Slater and Gordon Lawyers, comes just days after the success of CTC’s campaign for an appeal of the ‘unduly lenient’ sentence given to Edinburgh driver Gary McCourt whose driving had killed 2 cyclists. CTC has seen the strength of feeling for Road Justice as the campaign to call for a review of McCourt’s sentence was supported by over 6000 people who wrote to the Lord Advocate in the space of just three weeks.
Since 2009 CTC has collected over 4000 reports of bad driving through its online reporting system (at www.roadjustice.org.uk) and has spoken directly to victims who were injured by bad driving but whose cases where not dealt with properly by the legal system. The Road Justice website includes videos with some of these victims, telling their personal stories of the ways in which the justice system failed them, compounding the suffering from their original injuries. ( case studies are available for interview )
One of the videos on the Road Justice website is that of Sarah-Charlotte Peace. She was hit by a car driver on a roundabout in August 2012. She suffered serious leg injuries in the crash. Her career plans have been put on hold as a result and she now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. She didn’t receive any support from the police and never heard from the officer that attended the crash scene. In court the driver admitted that she had not looked properly before entering the roundabout, yet was only found guilty of careless driving. The driver received a paltry £110 fine and 9 penalty points and was able to drive again the same day.
CTC is campaigning for:
- High quality and thorough police investigations of all road traffic collisions.
- Better charging and prosecution decisions.
- Sentences that reflect the severity of the offence and discourage bad driving, including greater use of substantial driving bans.
The charity insists road crime is not being prioritised in the same way as other types of crime. Roads police numbers have fallen 29% in the past 10 years in England and Wales, while overall police numbers have remained stable.
CTC’s Road Justice Campaigner Rhia Weston said “We have compiled case studies and legal arguments to present to representatives of the police across the UK which highlight the need for better quality road collision investigations and appropriate charging practices.
Over the next six months CTC will also send evidence to the prosecution services and the courts demonstrating the need for more appropriate charging and prosecution decisions and greater use of tougher sentences, with an emphasis on extended driving bans.”
Rhia Weston added “We will work with other victims and their families to put forward strong arguments to law enforcers of the need to take bad driving seriously and work to bring about safer cycling and safer roads for all road users’.
It isn’t acceptable to feel at risk every time you get on your bike. It is time for all drivers to be held responsible for their actions
CTC President Jon Snow
CTC Press Office
Notes to editors
The 29% decline in roads police numbers is documented at http://www.ctc.org.uk/traffic-police-numbers-fall-29-in-10-years.
The 78% reduction in prosecutions for various driving offences is documented on p4 of CTC’s campaigns briefing on ‘Prosecutors and the Courts’. Other campaigns briefings issued by CTC include an overview of traffic law and enforcement, on roads policing, on the legal framework, and on compensation and liability. These can be accessed from the www.roadjustice.org.uk webpage. Other CTC briefings on road safety and other topics can be accessed from www.ctc.org.uk/campaignsbriefings
The numbers of people convicted in England and Wales for the offences of ‘dangerous’ and ‘careless’ driving, and their ‘causing death by…’ equivalents, fell by 81% between 1985 and 2011. This reduction can be partly explained by a reduction in collision numbers – fatal and serious injuries in Britain fell by 67% over this period. However in 2008 the Department for Transport noted that “It seems unlikely that any improvements in driving standards could account for a drop [in conviction numbers] on this scale.”
The financial argument made to support cuts to roads policing does not hold water when the economic cost of road death and injury is calculated –the annual cost to the economy of road death and injury has been calculated as between £15bn and £32bn . Central Government’s reluctance to prioritise road safety by failing to include casualty-related targets in its Road Safety Strategy discourages Chief Constables from prioritising resources for road crime reduction.
Investing in roads policing is highly effective, not only for promoting road safety, but also in tackling other forms of crime. The link between road traffic offences and other forms of crime is clearly recognised by ACPO’s roads policing strategy  and research supports this: a 2010 report found a clear link between offence history and being at fault in a road crash .
2 ACPO, Uniformed Operations: Policing the Roads – 5 Year Strategy 2011-2015. Nov 2011.
3 Dodson E, Hill, J. Linking Offence Histories to Accidents Using OTS Data. 2010. VSRC, Loughborough.