This article was published in 2007, in Newsletter 72.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has just held a consultation on prosecuting bad driving. The aim of the consultation is to try to achieve a more consistent standard of prosecution, with clearer guidance on what constitutes ‘careless’ or ‘dangerous’ driving offences, and on what basis drivers should be tried under the more serious charge of manslaughter.
The CPS is aware of the criticism that it under-charges drivers who have killed or maimed, and recognises that as a society we are becoming less accepting of dangerous driving.
The CPS is also trying to improve its treatment of victims’ families – an area which has attracted considerable criticism in the past. While the CPS acts on behalf of the state, not victims or their families, prosecutors have been criticised for a lack of sensitivity and for not communicating their decisions with bereaved family members.
The proposed changes all seem positive, and appear to move the process in the right direction. But it is a small step, and from only one agency within the process. Tightening up prosecution procedures is all very well, but we would rather not have people driving dangerously in the first place. That will take a very large shift in behaviour and attitudes, something that can only be achieved by re-thinking the way we educate, and assess drivers, and how we portray supposedly minor (but intimidating and potentially lethal) motoring offences.
You can read the consultation paper at the CPS website. A summary of the consultation responses will be published on the site from June.