Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, has been awarded a Road Safety Award by the charity Brake and Direct Line for his work campaigning for automatic licence suspension for drivers who have killed or are caught at twice the drink-drive limit. The campaign was launched by the family of Jamie Still, who was killed by a drink driver, with backing from Greg and Brake.
Jamie Still, a 16 year old from Leeds, was killed on New Year's Eve 2010 by a speeding driver who was twice over the legal drink drive limit. The driver was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but allowed to keep his licence for eight months while he awaited trial. Jamie's family were appalled the perpetrator was allowed to drive, potentially putting more people in danger. He was later sentenced to four years in prison.
Jamie's 13 year old sister Rebecca created a petition and the campaign site jamiestillcampaign.co.uk, calling on the government to change the law. The petition has been signed by over 12,000 people, including David Blunkett MP.
Currently, courts have the power to suspend a driver's licence if they believe the driver charged is a significant danger to the public. But in many cases drivers charged with causing death are allowed to continue driving in the run up to their trial. Inspired by Jamie's family, Greg asked the Prime Minister to consider changing the law during Prime Minister's Questions on 1 February 2012. Mr Cameron agreed that it was an issue that needed consideration, and promised to look into it.
In April Greg and Jamie's family met Justice Minister Crispin Blunt to discuss their campaign. Jamie's mum, Karen Strong, said, "It was pleasing that the Minister was sympathetic and understanding of our campaign and good to hear that the issue is on the agenda". She also wanted to thank Greg for all his hard work; "Greg has given us the opportunity to have our concerns heard." The family also appeared on BBC Breakfast and on Look North to promote their campaign.
In May Greg welcomed the announcement in the Queen's Speech to bring the Crime and Courts Bill forward during the next year, which he hopes will include legislation on this issue.
Greg secured a debate in Parliament on 17 July to try to persuade the government to include provisions on bail conditions for those charged with dangerous or careless driving. Victims minister Crispin Blunt congratulated Greg on his campaign and informed him guidance for courts was being reviewed and would be published for public consultation later in the year. He said he expected it will recommend a no-drive bail condition if a defendant is considered a danger to other road users. Read the debate.
Greg pledges to continue his work with Jamie's family to see this law changed.
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: "Greg's support of Jamie Still's family and their campaign has been instrumental in bringing their cause to Parliament, so we're pleased to recognise his efforts through this award. It's unacceptable that those charged with causing death by dangerous or careless driving do not have their licence automatically suspended. It means reckless, selfish drivers are allowed to keep driving, sometimes for many months, risking further casualties. That's why we're backing Greg and the family of Jamie Still in their campaign to change the law and protect the public from dangerous drivers who don't deserve to be behind the wheel."
Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West said: "The unimaginable loss Jamie's family suffered when he was killed on New Year's Eve 2010 was compounded by having to endure eight months knowing that the man who killed him was allowed to continue driving, despite the clear recklessness of his actions. The campaign instigated by Jamie's sister, Rebecca, brings the question of removing driving licences as a bail condition in such cases to the fore.
"We need this change, and I hope that our continuing efforts will ensure that those who drive dangerously, or carelessly, and go on to kill will have their licenses suspended as a condition of bail. As an MP I am in a privileged position to be able to raise issues like this and I am pleased to have been able to do this on behalf of the family of Jamie and I am pleased to accept this award from Brake."