On Tuesday 30th of January, a debate took place in Westminster Hall on ’The Victims of Road Traffic Offences’. The meeting capped a significant day for RoadPeace and its members, bravely coming together to share their story in the halls of power, speaking for all those killed and injured in road traffic offences, and their families.
From the outset, it was clear that the ordeals of RoadPeace members would dominate the debate, having worked with their constituency MP to highlight the need for change, putting their experiences front and centre to show the Minister for Roads and Transport, Guy Opperman, just how much they’ve been let down by the criminal justice system.
Selaine Saxby, chair of the APPG for Cycling and Walking, was the first to speak. Stating she was there to represent countless people who have or could be impacted by road crashes, The MP for North Devon was quick to echo our position that the term “accident” is incorrect and is not “just one of those things”, as there are a series of actions leading up to avoidable tragedies.
Wendy Morton was the next to voice her backing for our support groups and the fantastic work they do in her West Midlands constituency, praising the volunteer groups for providing support to others to raise awareness of the impact of road death. She brought attention to the campaigning of RoadPeace member Lola Chapman, who has been fighting for a reduction in road danger and the petition she has launched to limit driver speeds.
A key theme emerged that driving was a privilege, not a right, with many attendees referring to it. This was reiterated by James Wild as he made some very strong points, calling for tighter rules for disqualifying drivers, and made it clear that courts should be using the extent of their powers to hand out lifetime sentences for those that kill through dangerous driving.
Jonathan Gullis has been a key advocate in the House of Commons calling for ‘Sharlotte’s Law’ after his constituent Sharlotte-Sky Naglis was killed by a drunk and drug driver who could not give consent for his blood to be tested due to being in a coma. He continued to be a vociferous voice for change during the debate, signaling his intent to secure a bill to have all blood that is taken be tested regardless of consent.
A morning of such painful memories for the families of those killed, and of all RoadPeace members, had such a positive impact, as MPs urged Mr Opperman not to ignore the need for urgent change in the criminal justice system.
This just goes to show the progress we’ve made over the last few years, as we campaign toward fixing our broken justice system, and how invaluable the experiences that are shared by our members are when influencing those in power.
Of course, while this debate shows a unified appetite in Parliament for tightening sentencing, we need to make sure that we see this talk turned into action. To alter the landscape of justice we need to see real change implemented by the government, and we need to continue to ramp up the pressure on them until they do.
If you’d like to be involved in our fix our broken justice system campaign, please contact Rebecca at email@example.com
Updated on: 9 February 2024