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British Cycling and Leigh Day call for end to “hazardous leniency” in sentencing of drivers who kill or injure cyclists and pedestrians

British Cycling and legal partner Leigh Day have today called for changes to the justice system to clamp down on repeat road offenders and bring an end to what they describe as “hazardous leniency” which allows some offenders to escape driving bans or being held accountable for their actions.

Posted on 11 September 2023

Both organisations want to see greater consistency in the way police deal with incidents on the road with a national protocol rolled out to ensure a basic standard of evidence gathering is used up and down the country.

The recommendations are included in this latest report by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling and Walking (APPGCW), which has been sponsored by British Cycling and Leigh Day, and is published in Parliament on Monday 11 September.

In total the report makes 10 recommendations to improve safety on Britain’s roads, including:

  • Escalating penalties for repeat offenders, similar to those already in place for drug dealing and domestic burglary.
  • Increasing the maximum sentence for dangerous driving to four years, and compulsory re-testing following any period of disqualification.
  • Removing the ability for magistrates to grant exceptional hardship, ensuring an automatic ban for those reaching 12 points until a successful appeal is heard in the Crown Court.
  • Ensuring greater consistency when police investigate serious collisions and standardising reporting systems across all forces to include obtaining statements from witnesses straight away, taking photographs of the scene and searching for all available camera footage.
  • Treating crash victims as victims of crime at the scene of a collision, providing them with vital rights relating to submitting and receiving information and receiving adequate support.

The report follows on from a one-day hearing held by the APPCWG in the House of Commons in May 2023, which included expert evidence from representatives for organisations including British Cycling, Leigh Day, Cycling UK, the Metropolitan Police Service and others.

Ahead of the report’s publication, British Cycling CEO Jon Dutton said:

“Through our work with Leigh Day to support British Cycling members involved in incidents on the road, we are all too aware of the hazardous leniency embedded in our current legal system, which enables even the most persistent and reckless offenders to evade justice. We know that cycling has a vital role to play helping people to lead more active lives, reducing congestion in our towns and cities and connecting communities – but for too long its potential has been hamstrung by the pervasive and malevolent impact of dangerous driving. As we look ahead to next year’s General Election, we hope that this report will act as a catalyst for discussion and developing solutions amongst all of the major parties.”

Senior solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, Rory McCarron said:

“In our work for British Cycling's members and other injured cyclists and pedestrians we see numerous cases involving serious injury where the police have simply failed to collate even the most basic evidence such as witness statements and video footage. This means a prosecution is not pursued, allowing a dangerous road user to continue without any punishment.

"Often it appears this is because there are no robust and consistent procedures in place for officers to follow in relation to road traffic collisions. At times, it is only as a result of the injured person bringing a civil legal case that results in evidence, including video footage, being gathered which is then passed onto the police to secure a prosecution. Much more needs to be done to improve the handling of road traffic collision investigations to really protect vulnerable road users.”

Rory Mccarron
Amputation Brain injury Cycling Road traffic collisions Spinal injury

Rory McCarron

Rory McCarron is a senior associate solicitor in the cycling team.

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