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Criminal Driving Offences

Volume 616: debated on Tuesday 1 November 2016

11. What recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of sentencing policy for criminal driving offences. (906948)

The Government are very much aware of the concerns expressed about sentencing for driving offences. We are committed to making sure that the courts have sufficient powers to deal with driving offences appropriately and proportionately. We will consult by the end of the year on those offences and penalties.

Members across the House have supported families who have lost family members to the most reckless criminal driving. Members have also had to support such families through the reality of being failed by our justice system. The Department announced a review two and a half years ago, which should have concluded by now. Three Secretaries of State later, we are told again that there will be consultation this year. It is not good enough. Can the Minister give the House a clear date when the review will finally be published and there will be more justice for victims of criminal driving?

I am aware that a constituent of the hon. Gentleman was recently knocked down and killed by a driver over the drink-drive limit, and I offer my deepest condolences to the family of that constituent. Parliament sets the maximum penalties for road traffic offences, and we intend to consult by the end of the year on driving offences and penalties for the most serious cases that result in death or serious injury.

I welcome the Minister’s comments, but will he reassure me that part of the review will consider whether greater use can be made of the charge of manslaughter, so that those who have behaved so recklessly and caused someone’s death get the same type of penalty for doing that with their car as they would if they had done it with anything else?

The Crown Prosecution Service can and will charge a person with manslaughter where the evidence supports that charge, it is in the public interest to do so and there is a reasonable prospect of a conviction. In many driving cases, however, the offending behaviour, which may be highly irresponsible, does not suggest that the vehicle was intentionally used as a weapon to kill or commit grievous bodily harm or that the standard of driving was grossly negligent.