Dangerous Driving — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:54 pm on 8th July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Marie Rimmer Marie Rimmer Labour, St Helens South and Whiston 4:54 pm, 8th July 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for saying that.

The current laws on sentencing for dangerous driving are simply not good enough. We need to equip our judges with sentencing guidelines that enable them to provide that key tenet of our judicial system: justice. The Youens actually praised the judge and said his hands were tied. I am sure some will say, “What constitutes dangerous driving? What if I sneeze and lose control of my vehicle? Will I now face those increased sentences?” My simple answer is no. We are talking about giving judges the option through Sentencing Council guidelines to issue a higher sentence where they deem it to be just. A judge will consider all the evidence provided to them and pass a sentence appropriate to the crime committed, whether it be the minimum or the maximum sentence in the guidelines, as with any other crime. I and many others are arguing that the maximum sentence that a judge can issue for dangerous driving is far too low.

For gross negligence manslaughter, judges have the option to issue life as the maximum sentence, with a range of sentencing options below it—one to 18 years. I do not see why dangerous driving should have a lower maximum sentence than gross negligence manslaughter. Both involve a disregard for the lives of others, and as we see too often, both can lead to the death of innocent people. An individual’s direct, reckless and callous actions can lead to the death of another. Stealing a car and driving 83 mph in a 30 mph zone can cause life-changing injuries, and the suffering and death of an innocent four-year-old child. How can we not give our judges the option to deliver a sentence at least on a par with gross negligence manslaughter for dangerous driving?

Another issue that I wish to raise on behalf of Rebecca and Glenn, and that I believe falls within the scope of this debate, is concurrent sentencing. Rebecca, Glenn and many others think it is unacceptable that criminals can serve two sentences at the same time. They describe it as “buy one, get one free”. The crux of this issue is that the current legal system does not adequately explain to victims what is happening, and thus it does not appear to be delivering the justice it is supposed to deliver.