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Dangerous Driving

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 8 May 2008

14. To ask the Solicitor-General what steps the Crown Prosecution Service takes in prosecuting cases to seek longer sentences for people convicted of dangerous driving which results in serious injury. (204039)

Prosecutors have a general duty to assist the court when sentence is being considered, which may include advising the court of any aggravating factors, the appropriate sentencing range and, where applicable, relevant sentencing guidelines or guideline cases. The prosecutor will also inform the court when it is relevant of the effect of the crime on any victim or on the wider community. However, prosecutors cannot recommend or seek particular sentences; that is a matter for the sentencing court.

In respect of Crown court cases and more complex cases in the magistrates courts, prosecutors prepare a ‘plea and sentence document’. This identifies any aggravating factors in the case, together with relevant sentencing guidelines and guideline cases, so that the court is aware of all relevant factors when sentencing.

The guideline from the Sentencing Guidelines Council on seriousness sets out aggravating factors to be taken into account when sentencing generally. It includes among the factors indicating a more than usually serious degree of harm

“an especially serious physical or psychological effect on the victim, even if unintended.”

Specifically on prosecuting cases of bad driving, including cases that result in serious injury or death, the Crown Prosecution Service published its Public Policy Statement on Prosecuting Cases of Bad Driving in December 2007. The Policy makes clear that the prosecutor has a duty to ensure that the court has all the information it needs to enable it to sentence appropriately.