RSO suggests stiffer penalties for car seat errors

12.00 | 26 July 2013 | | 5 comments

Stuart Howarth, Rochdale’s casualty reduction officer, is asking whether drivers should face prosecution for child neglect if a child car seat is incorrectly fitted.

Rochdale’s casualty reduction team has been carrying out child seat clinics at children and family centres and private nurseries, and the question arose as a result of this activity.

Stuart Howarth said: “It is nice to see that there is a steady increase in ISO-FIX child seats, and most child restraints need only a small amount of adjustment to put them right.

“However a question has been raised within our team.

“If a child is carried in a car, either not using a seatbelt or using an inappropriate child restraint, should the driver not be prosecuted for child neglect as they have failed to provide a safe environment?

“Is the fine for non-use of a seat belt sufficient, does that really get the safety message across and demonstrate how severe the injuries to that child could be?

“Drivers who turn up at centres and nurseries just don’t seem to get how serious the issue is, with the usual excuses of ‘I forgot it’, ‘it’s in the other car’, ‘they don’t like it over their shoulder’.

“Maybe things need to change?”

Stuart added: “Child neglect is an on-going failure to provide the right care and attention to a child’s needs, including food and a safe environment, or to a child’s emotional needs including warmth, security and love.

“A lack of these things is likely to result in serious damage to the child’s health or development.”

For more information contact Stuart Howarth on 01706 924605.


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    Did anyone else see the newest member of the royal family leaving hospital after his birth recently? Although his father fitted his rear facing seat onto its ISO Fix base, the car seat harness left a lot to be desired! The poor new-born prince was wrapped in a swaddling blanket and the harness was loosely draped around him and would not have held him in the seat if there had been an accident or a need for sharp braking! I hope someone puts the new royal parents right and that the baby is properly and safely strapped in in future!

    Vicky, Redbridge
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I agree that there is a neglect if a child is not in an appropriate seat or even a belt if older, but poorly fitted is more of a careless rather than reckless or deliberate act. Let’s tackle those that load a car with children and don’t bother rather than those making ‘some effort’.

    Olly, Lancs
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    I disagree because the manufacturers should be held responsible for their product. I have used two seats in the same car; one took a mechanic almost an hour to fit, the other was so easy it was fitted in 5 minutes.

    Jim Aberdeen
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    What Stuart is suggesting was discussed some time back in Glasgow. It was around the time when The Good Egg Guide was being devised. During discussions with the then Strathclyde Police Head of Traffic it was floated that anyone not securing their children in a vehicle would be subject of a report to the council’s Social Services on the grounds of neglect. For some reasons, which I am not aware of it was not progressed. My feeling was that perhaps Social Services were particularly stretched with many other competing priorities associated with the city.

    Bill, dbda
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    I appreciate what Stuart is getting at and perhaps the child neglect offence angle is in the absence of any more appropriate traffic laws to deal with it, but even if a child was correctly seated, if the parent then went on to drive recklessly and/or carelessly (under the influence/speeding/on the phone etc.) could that still be child neglect i.e. knowingly putting the child in danger?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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