Dangerous Driving — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

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

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

I accept what my hon. Friend says; people are feeling that.

I call on the Minister to explain to my constituents why concurrent sentences are used, and to investigate how our judicial system explains its practices to victims. I and others are not calling for a knee-jerk change to the law. We are arguing not for punishment for the sake of punishment, but merely for a sentence that fits the crime that has been committed. We are under no illusions about the impact that the change would have on preventing dangerous driving. Changing the sentencing for dangerous driving may only deter a few people from driving dangerously, but those few people changing their behaviour could save lives like Violet-Grace’s. If it saves more lives, surely it is worth it. It will also send a clear message to those who might consider driving dangerously that we as a society see it as morally abhorrent.

Some may not change their behaviour and may cause death by dangerous driving, but by changing the sentencing guidelines we will finally deliver justice for families such as the Youens and others who are affected by such recklessness. It cannot be acceptable that individuals such as those who struck down Violet-Grace and tore open the Youen family can serve sentences shorter than the time she was alive. They have sentenced Rebecca, Glenn and Violet-Grace’s little brother Oliver to a life of grief, and denied them the joys of watching her grow up and experiencing the joyous occasions and events that a maturing daughter gives to a family. That loss can never be repaid in this life.

In October 2017, the Government pledged to increase sentencing for death by dangerous driving to life, but we have not seen any meaningful movement on that issue in nearly two years. I therefore call on the Minister to set his civil servants to the task of getting the laws on dangerous driving changed. That gap in our legislation and our justice system must be filled sooner, rather than later.

I understand that issues such as Brexit put a strain on Departments and Parliament, but we must not allow this vital issue to be lost in the miasma of current politics. Rebecca and Glenn want the change in the law to be made properly and as quickly as possible. The Government have a duty to get it done. The longer we leave it, the longer our judicial system will fail to deliver the justice that the Youens and the other families we met today deserve. Although we can never heal the wound that has been opened, we must improve justice for victims and survivors and show that we care for them.