YORK’S MPs are backing The Road To Justice campaign and have vowed to speak with a Government minister about rewriting sentencing guidelines for dangerous drivers.
We are calling on the Government to give judges more power to hand out longer sentences to those who kill or seriously injure on the road.
Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, is supporting The Press after she was left devastated when her friend was killed, and will write to Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, about the campaign. She said: “I strongly support the campaign to get tougher sentencing for drivers who cause serious injuries or death on our roads.
York MPs Rachael Maskell and Julian Sturdy
“I was devastated when a good friend of mine was killed and the driver, who had previous convictions, got off lightly.
“Families and victims deserve to see justice served. We should examine the evidence to see if a total driving ban were a better deterrent rather than for just a year or two.”
Ms Maskell has proposed a scheme where families or victims meet offenders to help the rehabilitation process.
She added: “There is also increasing evidence that the restorative justice model can be very effective.
“Drivers who kill or injure through dangerous driving could, where appropriate, meet the victims and their families to see first-hand the devastation they have caused.
“Custody and fines as a sole response to those who cause road deaths and injuries is not always the most effective way of managing perpetrators of crime, and therefore it is important that judges have more options available to ensure that the penalty fits the crime.”
Prime Minster Theresa May announced last month that the Ministry of Justice was reviewing the law for those who caused death by reckless driving.
Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, added: “I am pleased the Prime Minister is actively seeking to change the law in order to ensure that drivers who kill face longer jail sentences, but I feel this is only part of the problem.
“Many victims of dangerous driving crimes endure life sentences if they are permanently disabled or suffer traumatic injuries through no fault of their own.
“We must make it absolutely clear that whilst a driving licence gives a person a right to drive a car, they also have a responsibility to ensure they do so safely.
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“Where drivers cannot fulfil this obligation the law should treat them firmly even in those cases where lives are not lost.”
Alec Shelbrooke, MP for Elmet and Rothwell, is helping Joanne and Robert Wark, the parents of 19-year-old Callum Wark, get tougher sentences for drink drivers after he was killed by a lorry driver in 2014.
He said: “Joanne and Robert came to talk to me about their son Callum. They defined the 3rd March 1994, the day Callum was born, as the proudest day of their lives.
“On 1st March 2014 - two days before his twentieth birthday - Callum was killed when his Renault Clio was hit by a heavy goods vehicle just outside my constituency. The driver of that HGV – a Bulgarian national called Stoyan Andonov Stoyanov - was found to be three times over the legal drink drive limit and jailed for seven years, likely to serve only half, and banned from driving in the UK for 10 years.
“Those who knew Callum tell me they had little doubt that he would one day go on to great things so when I secured an adjournment debate in Parliament on the issue of sentencing I highlighted an opportunity to make a legacy in Callum’s memory - to strengthen sentences for those guilty of causing death by driving whilst under the influence of alcohol.
“Individuals that knowingly place themselves behind the wheel whilst drunk do so knowing that they are making a weapon of their vehicles. It’s time to recognise this in law and raise the charge for causing death whist under the influence of alcohol to an unlawful act manslaughter.”
To support the campaign, go to https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/156369 and sign the petition to urge MPs to take action.