British Cycling has spoken out about "hazardous leniency" in sentencing of drivers who kill or injure cyclists and pedestrians, which "enables even the most persistent and reckless offenders to evade justice", and has called for change.
Along with the governing body's legal partner, Leigh Day, British Cycling has sponsored the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling and Walking's (APPGCW) latest report, due to be published in Parliament today, making recommendations to improve safety on Britain's roads.
British Cycling marked the day of the report being published by emphasising a desire to see "changes to the justice system to clamp down on repeat road offenders" and bring an end to "hazardous leniency which allows some offenders to escape driving bans or being held accountable for their actions."
"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," British Cycling explained.
The cross-party APPGCW's report suggests numerous changes that could make the roads safer, including escalating penalties for repeat offenders, increasing the maximum sentence for dangerous driving, and 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.
The escalating penalties for repeat offenders suggestion would reflect a similar step to what is already in place for drug dealing and domestic burglary offences, while the report also calls for "greater consistency when police investigate serious collisions" through a standardised reporting system across all forces for obtaining statements from witnesses and collecting evidence.
British Cycling, Leigh Day, Cycling UK, and the Metropolitan Police service were some of the organisations who offered insight for the report, which also calls for crash victims to be treated as victims of crime at the scene of the incident, to provide them with "vital rights relating to submitting and receiving information and receiving adequate support".
"Enables even the most persistent and reckless offenders to evade justice"
Commenting on British Cycling's role in the report, CEO Jon Dutton said the governing body is "all too aware of the hazardous leniency embedded in our current legal system" and hoped the report could "act as a catalyst for discussion" ahead of the next General Election.
"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," he said.
"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."
A senior solicitor at Leigh Day, Rory McCarron, added: "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."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.