Chris Ruane MP for Vale of Clwyd, July 2008

july08Chris Ruane MP is campaigning with constituents to call for a review of sentencing for killer drivers and in particular, the practice of reducing jail sentences when an offender pleads guilty in a clear-cut case.

On 21 July 2008 Chris presented a petition supported by 7,000 people to Parliament on behalf of his constituents, Mr and Mrs Coulton, calling on the Government to review policy for sentencing dangerous drivers. The petition was prompted by the eight-year sentence given in June 2008 to Daniel Storey, the driver who killed the Coultons’ daughter, Amanda, 20. Storey had previously been convicted for driving offences, but his sentence was reduced to eight years after he pleaded guilty to causing Amanda’s death.

Chris called on the Government to change sentencing policy, to scrap the practice of reducing jail sentences when an offender pleads guilty in a clear-cut case. He also called for earlier intervention to try to discourage repeated young offenders from committing more serious driving offences. In press interviews about the campaign, Chris said “we need to re-educate [young offenders] or punish them. We need to be telling them that if they keep offending, there’s a real risk they could kill someone. And if they do kill someone, we need to let them know they will face the full weight of the law.”

Chris is now arranging a meeting between the Coultons and the Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, to discuss the petition and potential changes to the law.

Chris’s call for action comes in the same month that the Sentencing Guidelines Council announced sentencing guidelines for death by driving, which set ‘starting points’ for sentences, depending on the level of seriousness. The guidelines also include advice on sentencing the new offences of ‘causing death by careless driving’ and ‘causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers’. These new offences were passed by Parliament in the Road Safety Act 2006, but are not due to come into operation until 18 August 2008.

Click here to read more about Brake’s campaign for tougher penalties for traffic offenders and for Brake’s reactions to the guidelines.

Chris has a track record of campaigning for road safety in his constituency.

  • In 2005, he circulated a 3,000 name petition calling for 20mph speed limits to be introduced outside all schools in Denbighshire and this led to Denbighshire County Council introducing a scheme to pilot part-time 20mph limits outside Rhyl High School in September 2007. Click here for more information about Brake’s ‘Watch Out, There’s a Kid About’ campaign to stop child death and injury on the road.

  • Following the death of four of his constituents in a cycling accident in 2006, Chris led discussions which resulted in North Wales Police reviewing its protocol in the way that crashes are logged and the Transport Minister is now looking at ways that all areas of the country can learn from the tragedy. Read Brake’s advice for cyclists on staying safe on the road.