Justice Minister to discuss criminal justice system review with British Cycling

Sunday, 21 October 2012
By Mike Rowbottom

Cyclist Oct_21October 21 – British Cycling's campaign to get the Government to review how the justice system operates when people are hurt or killed on the road took a step forward when Justice Minister Helen Grant made a commitment to meet British Cycling representatives during an adjournment debate at Westminster Hall.

The debate, tabled by Manchester MP Tony Lloyd, covered a range of issues concerning victims and the criminal justice system, including how people found guilty of serious driving offences are given lenient sentences under the current law.

MPs of all political persuasions supported British Cycling's call for a review of the criminal justice system, including Shadow Justice Minister and MP for Stoke-on-Trent South Rob Flello, All Party Cycling Group co-chair and British Cycling member Ian Austin MP, Labour MP for Exeter Ben Bradshaw and Conservative Dr Sarah Wollaston MP for Totnes.

British Cycling's Rob Jefferies, a volunteer co-ordinator, was killed while cycling, by an 18-year-old driver who had recently passed his test and had previously been caught speeding.

The driver received 200 hours community sentence and an 18 month driving ban.

Rob Jefferies brother, Will Jefferies, reacted to the debate saying: "I'm pleased to hear that the Government has agreed to meet British Cycling about their campaign for a review of the justice system.

Justice Minister_Helen_Grant_oct_21Justice Minister Helen Grant has agreed to meet British Cycling representatives

"Now we need to see some action on the matter – as we all know that actions speak louder than words."

Other examples of lenient sentencing incude the following. 

Karl Austin, a club cyclist, was killed in Derbyshire by a speeding lorry.

The driver received a 24 week suspended sentence.

And Tom Barratt, an RAF officer and father of two, was killed by a delivery van driver who received a 12 month ban and 100 hours community service.

Bradshaw, said it is "totally unacceptable that people who take the life of someone's loved one are being given little more than a slap on the wrist" and prompted Grant to agree to the meeting with British Cycling while Flello called for a "root and branch review of the justice system".

British Cycling launched a campaign to push the Government to review the justice system in May and representatives attended the debate.

Director of British Cycling's policy and legal affairs, Martin Gibbs, said: "I was very pleased to see the widespread cross party support, both from MPs and the shadow justice minister to our call for a justice review today.

"This is an issue that concerns everyone who cycles, whether they are a world champion or someone who rides their bike to work occasionally.

Britsih Cycling_Campaign_Oct_21Screen grab from British Cycling's campaign for a review of the justice system with regards to the sentencing of drivers causing injury or death to cyclists by dangerous driving 

"People need to feel that they are protected by the law.

"It is clear to us that the current justice system often delivers results which send the wrong message about the right of people to ride safely on the roads.

"We need to take action now to make the Government take this issue seriously.

"We're grateful for the shadow minister's call for a root and branch review of the justice system and we look forward to meeting with the justice minister soon."

In June, British Cycling wrote to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice asking for a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system with suggestions about how it could be changed to better protect road users.

The sports governing body is yet to receive a reply to this letter.

Flello, has said that he will push the Lord Chancellor on this issue and will propose that the need for a justice review is included in the Labour Party manifesto.

An Early Day Motion, tabled in July by Julian Huppert MP, has the support of 78 MPs so far, in response to letters sent by British Cycling's members across the country.

British Cycling's call for a review of the justice system is supported by a range of organisations including Cycling Weekly, CTC, Sustrans, the London Cycling Campaign, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, The Times, RoadPeace, Brake, Leigh Day & Co solicitors and the Road Danger Reduction Forum.

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