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I am delighted to welcome the news that the government are to begin a public consultation on changes to sentences for causing death by dangerous driving.

As part of the consultation I understand that the government is to propose life sentences for offenders.

Many of you will be aware that this announcement follows years of campaigning by the families of victims, including Dawn and Ian Brown-Lartey whose son Joseph was killed in Rochdale in November 2014 by a driver doing 80mph in a 30mph zone. Under current sentencing guidelines, his killer is expected to serve just 3 years of a 6 year sentence.

Since first meeting them I have been inspired by the dignity and determination of Dawn and Ian to get justice for their son. Sadly, their experience is far too common and the law has not delivered the justice they deserve.

I have been proud to support the Justice for Joseph campaign and alongside many other dedicated campaigners we have kept the pressure on the government. Last week, I was among a number of MPs to sign a letter to the Justice Secretary Liz Truss MP calling for an urgent review of sentencing guidelines and I was extremely pleased to be able to appear alongside Dawn and Ian on BBC Breakfast yesterday morning to welcome the news of the new consultation.

Many people and organisations have worked tirelessly to change the law, including Michelle Livesey and Key 103 who have been staunch supporters of the Justice for Joseph campaign, and the national charity Brake whose Roads to Justice campaign has helped to give the issue prominence.

I would urge as many people as possible to take part in the consultation and make sure we get the right result.

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Government announces consultation on dangerous driving sentences

I am delighted to welcome the news that the government are to begin a public consultation on changes to sentences for causing death by dangerous driving.

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I am pleased to be one of a group of MPs who this week have written to the Government urging them to commit to a review of sentences for people found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

In our letter to the Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Liz Truss MP, MPs from Labour, the Conservatives and the SNP demand the Government stands by its stated intentions of reviewing sentencing guidelines and announce plans for a consultation to begin as soon as possible.

As many people know I have been a strong and vocal supporter of the Justice for Joseph campaign which is fighting for a change in the law. Joseph Brown-Lartey was killed by a driver who was speeding at 80 mph in a 30 mph zone and ran a red light at the junction of Bury Road and Sandy Lane, Rochdale in November 2014. His killer is expected to serve just 3 years of a 6 year sentence.

I have found the strength and determination of Joseph's parents to be a source of inspiration. I am also grateful to Michelle Livesey and Key 103 for their tireless work supporting the Justice for Joseph campaign.

I am pleased that our letter has cross-party support from a range of MPs, and many others have been in touch to offer me their support for this campaign. As our letter makes clear, even the Prime Minister herself has experience of helping constituents affected by this issue. 

Far too many families lose loved ones as a result of dangerous driving and in too many cases the punishment does not fit the crime. Victims and their loved ones deserve justice, and drivers need to know that their actions behind the wheel could have serious consequences for themselves and others. 

My colleague and friend Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clwyd South and one of the letter's co-signatories, secured a debate in Westminster Hall yesterday to further highlight the growing demands for a change in the law (watch the debate here - it begins at 16:15) and I was pleased to hear the Justice Minister Sam Gyimah once again commit to a consultation beginning before the end of the year.

However, we have been promised this before and as December has now begun I am still concerned it will not happen as promised.

I and many others are determined to keep pressuring the government until the fight is won.

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The full text of the letter sent to Liz Truss MP is as follows:

Dear Lord Chancellor,

Dangerous driving sentencing review     

In May 2014, the Ministry of Justice announced a “full review of all driving offences and penalties, to ensure people who endanger lives and public safety are properly punished”. The report has still to be published and no consultation has yet taken place.

Since then, an online petition asking for a review has been signed by more than 100,000 people, and during PMQs on 7th September the Prime Minister said: “The daughter of constituents of mine was killed as a result of dangerous driving, and they have raised concerns with me specifically about their case. This is a matter which, I believe, the Ministry of Justice is looking at.”

Many Members have stories similar to the Prime Minister’s from their own constituencies. We have all been inspired by the determination of victims’ families to change the sentencing guidelines, and we are saddened and frustrated that at present the law does not provide the justice which victims and their loved ones deserve.

On 13th September Justice Minister Sam Gyimah MP reaffirmed the government’s commitment to reviewing the law and stated that a “consultation will begin before the end of the year.” We would be most grateful if you could confirm as soon as possible when the consultation will begin and provide a timetable for publishing the results.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Signed by: Liz McInnes MP; Jeremy Lefroy MP; John McNally MP; Caroline Ansell MP; Stephen Timms MP; Nic Dakin MP; Dan Jarvis MP; Susan Elan Jones MP; Vernon Coaker MP; James Duddridge MP; Ben Bradshaw MP

 

 

MPs call for review of dangerous driving sentences

I am pleased to be one of a group of MPs who this week have written to the Government urging them to commit to a review of sentences for people...

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Last week I visited a Guide Dogs event in Parliament to support a Guide Dogs campaign for taxi and minicab drivers to receive disability equality training when getting their licence.

The guide dog owners, including Mahomed Khatri pictured above with guide dog Vargo, told me how taxi and minicab drivers sometimes refused to carry them because they had their guide dog with them. They explained that they had missed important appointments due to the refusals and how it had left them anxious and reluctant to use taxis and minicabs again.

A Private Member’s Bill that sought to introduce the training had been brought to parliament on November 18th by my friend and colleague Andrew Gwynne, the Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, but filibustering by Conservative MP Sheryll Murray meant that the allotted time was taken up and a debate on Andrew's Bill was unable to take place.

Although the Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for a taxi or minicab driver to refuse to carry an assistance dog, Guide Dogs research found that 42% of people living with sight loss were turned away by a taxi or minicab in the last year because of their guide dog. The research also uncovered that 38% of assistance dog owners have illegally been asked to pay an extra fare for carrying their dog.

Guide Dogs is calling for disability equality training to be made a requirement for all taxi and minicab drivers to help them understand the rights and needs of disabled people and how to welcome assistance dog owners.

James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, says:

‘Imagine you were turned away by a taxi driver or asked to pay an extra fare, for no good reason. Despite legal protection, this regularly happens to people living with sight loss because they are travelling with a guide dog. This discrimination is not only illegal, it knocks people’s confidence and can stop them doing everyday things that most people take for granted. We are very disappointed that we didn’t see a vote on the Disability Equality Training Bill. We were encouraged by the Government’s supportive comments and hope they will take action to introduce training for all taxi and minicab drivers.’

This government are making a habit of filibustering decent and unobjectionable Private Member's Bills, having talked out proposals in recent months which would have guaranteed first aid training in secondary schools, free parking at hospitals and ended the use of wild animals in circuses. This latest Tory filibuster is another shameful example and a damning indictment of Conservative values.

I’m asking the Government to act to ensure all taxi and minicab drivers receive disability equality training so they are aware of the law and how to assist their disabled customers in the right way, and if this issue is brought to parliament again let us be given the chance to debate it. It's the least the victims of discrimination deserve.

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Find out more about the work of the fantastic Guide Dogs charity here

Liz says 'Stop discrimination against disabled people'

Last week I visited a Guide Dogs event in Parliament to support a Guide Dogs campaign for taxi and minicab drivers to receive disability equality training when getting their licence....

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