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.
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