Wisbech family receives national road safety award for campaign in memory of son

15 January 2014

Brake, the road safety charity

The family of Jamie Butcher, who was killed by a speeding driver in February 2011, has received a prestigious award recognising their contribution to tackling devastating road casualties and ensuring justice for victims' families.

Jamie's stepdad, Steve Green, mum Tina and sister Hollie Butcher, all from Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, received the Road Safety Campaigners of the Year Award at road safety charity Brake's annual reception at the Houses of Parliament last night, sponsored by Direct Line Group (photo attached).

The family began their campaign after Jamie's killer, who went through a red light and was speeding at twice the limit before hitting Jamie on a pedestrian crossing, was sentenced to just 43 months in prison. He is likely to serve less than two years of the sentence.

The family were appalled to discover four in ten drivers who are convicted of killing someone through their risky driving aren't even sent to jail, and only one in 10 are sentenced to more than five years in prison [1].

Devastated by the driver's paltry sentence for taking Jamie's life, they set up a campaign, 'Justice for Jamie', calling for tougher sentences for drivers who kill. They launched the campaign with their local newspaper, the Wisbech Standard, and then went on to seek help from their MP Steve Barclay.

Steve helped them to take the campaign to a national platform, by raising the issue in Parliament and helping to set up a petition. Steve also contacted Brake to get their support and input to the campaign.

The campaign calls for the Sentencing Council to review judges' guidelines on sentencing so drivers who kill receive tougher sentences. It also urges the government to consider abolishing the offence of 'Causing Death by Careless Driving', which carries a much lower maximum sentence than 'Causing Death by Dangerous Driving', so all drivers who kill through their bad driving are charged with the latter. This would better recognise the terrible harm these drivers have caused, and ensure they are sentenced according to the severity of their risk-taking. The current system means that many killer drivers who have taken serious risks, like speeding or driving while being distracted, are prosecuted with the lesser offence and given very short sentences, or even evade jail completely.
The Butcher family appeared in numerous national papers and on TV as the campaign petition launched nationally in October 2012. As the family's e-petition began to collect thousands of signatures, they set to work raising the campaign's profile among policy-makers.

Steve was able to secure the family a meeting with the Rt. Hon Chris Grayling Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice in early 2013. At the meeting, accompanied by Steve Barclay, they asked the Lord Chancellor to recommend a review of sentencing guidelines. He agreed to discuss the campaign with transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, with a view to making a joint approach to the Sentencing Council, chaired by Lord Leveson, calling for the guidelines to be reviewed in death by dangerous driving cases.

Following their meeting, the Sentencing Council announced it would conduct a review into the current guidelines on causing death by driving, as well as the guidance on other driving offences in the guidelines used by Magistrates' Courts.

The family aims to continue gathering support for the petition in preparation for the Sentencing Council review. The review is expected to start in mid-2014 and be ready for consultation in 2015. Brake and the Butcher family intend to input into the review to ensure justice for families who are affected by road crashes.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Jamie's family have been instrumental in highlighting the gross injustice felt by so many families who suffer the horror of a loved one being killed in a road crash. They have courageously helped to mobilise political will for tougher sentences for drivers who kill through risky driving. Their campaign has already made major in-roads, and if it succeeds it could have an enormous impact for other families, helping to prevent needless suffering and distress, as well as ensuring traffic offending is taken as seriously as other crimes that end and devastate people's lives by our criminal justice system. Brake will continue to work alongside Steve, Tina and Hollie throughout the forthcoming sentencing review to ensure drivers who inflict terrible harm are brought to justice."

Steve Green said: "We are delighted to receive the Road Safety Campaigners of the Year Award from Brake, in memory of our son Jamie. This award recognises a lot of hard work, not just by ourselves but by many other people as well. We are hopeful for a positive outcome from the upcoming Sentencing Council review, which should help make sure there are tougher penalties for drivers who kill."

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (17-23 November 2014), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Direct Line Insurance Group plc
Direct Line Insurance Group plc (Direct Line Group) is headquartered in Bromley, Kent; it has operations in the UK, Germany and Italy.

Through its number of well known brands Direct Line Group offers a wide range of general insurance products to consumers. These brands include; Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege. It also offers insurance services for third party brands through its Partnerships division. In the commercial sector, its NIG and Direct Line for Business operations provide insurance products for businesses via brokers or direct respectively.

In addition to insurance services, Direct Line Group continues to provide support and reassurance to millions of UK motorists through its Green Flag breakdown recovery service and TRACKER stolen vehicle recovery and telematics business.

End notes
[1] in 2011 399 drivers were convicted of: Causing death by dangerous driving; Causing death by careless driving under influence of drink or drugs; Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving; Causing death by driving unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers; or Causing death by aggravated vehicle taking. 246 received an immediate prison sentence or time at a Young Offenders Institution. 37 received sentences of five years or more. Criminal Justice Statistics, Motoring tables, Ministry of Justice, December 2011.

Tags: awards road deaths campaign