Brake has called on the Government to press ahead with introducing stricter sentencing guidelines for drivers who kill, eight months after the changes were announced.
In October 2017, the Government confirmed that drivers who cause death by speeding, racing, or while using a mobile phone could face sentences equivalent to manslaughter, with maximum penalties raised from 14 years to life.
Offenders who cause death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs can also face life sentences, and a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving will be created.
However, according to Brake, eight months on from the announcement – and despite repeated questioning in the House of Commons by Judith Cummins, Bradford South MP – the justice minister has been unable to say when the tougher sentences would be implemented.
Brake says the ‘eight months of inaction’ has angered the families of road crash victims, including the family of 81-year-old Derek Raynor, who was killed when using a pedestrian crossing in Hammersmith on 4 March 2017.
The driver had been travelling double the 30mph speed limit when he ran a red light and pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving – but was sentenced to just six years and four months in prison.
Sentencing the case in May 2018, seven months after the Government announcement but with its implementation still on hold, Judge Nicholas Cooke QC stated: “If I had unfettered discretion, you may be facing rather longer in custody.”
Timothy Coaker, Mr Raynor’s nephew, said: “Derek was tragically taken from us by the very definition of a dangerous driver; a repeat offender who showed no remorse for his actions. Yet, Derek’s killer will serve just three years behind bars whilst Derek is gone forever.
“The Government has a duty to families like mine to ensure that justice is delivered by bringing in these new laws now, not several months or years down the line. There can be no excuse.”
Joshua Harris, Brake’s director of campaigns, said: “It is completely unacceptable that these new tougher sentences have not yet been implemented. There is absolutely no reason why it should take so long to deliver the justice that families, like Derek Raynor’s, deserve.
“Drivers who kill or seriously injure all too often receive lenient sentences. By delaying the introduction of new tougher sentences, the Government is causing further suffering to families who have lost loved ones in road crashes. The Government must implement these tougher sentences now.”
Judith Cummins MP said: “My heart goes out to Mr Raynor’s family. They deserve better than a Government which is dragging its feet over much needed reforms to our criminal justice system.
“I have continuously campaigned for tougher sentences to help crack down on dangerous driving in my constituency and across the country.
“But despite repeated questions in Parliament, I am yet to receive a satisfactory answer as to the when these vital changes will be brought forward.”