'This is an issue that concerns everyone who cycles...People need to feel that they are protected by the law'

Justice system review for vulnerable road users in the offing

British Cycling, wearing its advocacy hat, has secured a meeting with Justice Minister Helen Grant at an adjournment debate at Westminster Hall.

The meeting is part of a wider campaign to get the government to review how the justice system acts for those who are hurt or killed on the road.

Manchester MP Tony Lloyd tabled the debate, which will tackle a range of issues concerning victims and the criminal justice system, including how people found guilty of bad driving offences are being given lenient sentences under the current law.

MPs of all political persuasions supported British Cycling’s call for a review, including Shadow Justice Minister Rob Flello MP, All Party Cycling Group Chair Ian Austin MP, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw and Conservative Dr Sarah Wollaston MP.

“It’s totally unacceptable that people who take the life of someone’s loved one are being given little more than a slap on the wrist,” said Labour MP for Exeter Ben Bradshaw, prompting Grant to agree to the meeting.

Co-Chair of the All Party Cycling Group and British Cycling member, Ian Austin MP set out a number of examples where lenient sentences have been handed to people found guilty of bad driving offences while Shadow Justice Minister, Rob Flello MP, called for a “root and branch review of the justice system.”

British Cycling launched a campaign to push the government to review the justice system in May. Representatives from the sports governing body attended yesterday’s debate.

British Cycling’s director of policy and legal affairs Martin Gibbs said: “I was very pleased to see the widespread cross party support, both from MPs and the shadow justice minister to our call for a justice review today [speaking on October 17th]. This is an issue that concerns everyone who cycles, whether they are a world champion or someone who rides their bike to work occasionally.

"People need to feel that they are protected by the law. It is clear to us that the current justice system often delivers results which send the wrong message about the right of people to ride safely on the roads. We need to take action now to make the government take this issue seriously. We’re grateful for the shadow minister’s call for a root and branch review of the justice system and we look forward to meeting with the justice minister soon.”

British Cycling’s call for a review of the justice system is supported by a range of organisations including Cycling Weekly, CTC, Sustrans, the London Cycling Campaign, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, The Times, RoadPeace, Brake, Leigh Day & Co solicitors and the Road Danger Reduction Forum.

In June, British Cycling wrote to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice asking for a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system with suggestions about how it could be changed to better protect road users. The sports governing body is yet to receive a reply to this letter.

Shadow Justice Minister and MP for Stoke on Trent South, Rob Flello, has today said that he will push the Lord Chancellor on this issue and will propose that the need for a justice review is included in the Labour Party manifesto.

An Early Day Motion, tabled in July by Julian Huppert MP, has the support of 78 MPs so far, in response to letters sent by British Cycling’s members across the country.

British Cycling said: "There are a number of cases where it seems that justice hasn’t been served for people hurt on the roads. Rob Jefferies, a British Cycling colleague and volunteer co-ordinator, was killed while cycling by an 18 year old driver who had recently passed his test and had previously been caught speeding. The driver received 200 hours community sentence and an 18 month driving ban."

Rob Jefferies brother, Will Jefferies, attended a meeting with Rob Flello MP earlier today. Reacting to the debate, he said: “I’m pleased to hear that the government has agreed to meet British Cycling about their campaign for a review of the justice system. Now we need to see some action on the matter – as we all know that actions speak louder than words.”

British Cycling also cited the example of Karl Austin, a club cyclist, who was killed in Derbyshire by a speeding lorry. The driver received a 24 week suspended sentence. And Tom Barratt, an RAF officer and father of two was killed by a delivery van driver who received a 12 month ban and 100 hours community service.

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