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BIkerider

Talk of increased penalties

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Over the last couple of days there has been talk in the media about increasing the penalties for persons who cause death by dangerous or careless driving, causing death by driving over the prescribed alcohol limit and causing death when driving whilst using a mobile 'phone. The penalties could be be increased to Life Imprisonment.

 

An admirable gesture!

 

However there was an article in the Mail today (Yes I know - yawn) which pointed out that, even when quite steep penalties are available for these offences, (I think they are 14 years Imp) the courts shy away from using them to good effect and they are only very very rarely used. I think both retired police officers and serving ones will agree that this is correct. I certainly do.

 

By increasing the penalties, will the courts take any notice of the new maximum, but instead still hand out paltry sentences? I think we all know the answer.

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The government seems to use an increase in penalties as a cheap way of dealing with the core problem as opposed to putting money into enforcement in the first place.  

 

I have got two problems with the idea.  First, hardly anyone currently gets more than 5 years for dangerous driving under the current sentencing guidelines so the proposal is only going to affect a minuscule number of offenders, so the headlines it grabs are completely out of proportion to the number of people it will affect.  I think that a more effective strategy would be to look at current sentencing guidelines and see if these can be changed to allow longer prison sentences within the current 14 year max, then wait and see what the more serious incidents merit.

 

The Tories have however increased penalties for hand held mobile phone use but without increasing resources for enforcement, which is a cheap way of looking tough without actually spending any money.  The sum total will be a decreasing number of people being hit with higher penalties without acting as a deterrent to the majority who seem to think its OK to use phones in the car.  They have also moved away from education (mobile phone awareness classes for offenders) to increased penalties.

 

There seems to be evidence that the number of RTCs and deaths and injuries on the roads is creeping up which seems to have coincided with the decimation of RPU units and the reduction in time for response to deal with driving offences.  The governments solution is to increase penalties, but the presence of police on the road acts as a deterrent to bad practice which seems to be ignored by HMG.  

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If nobody gets the maximum sentence now, the reason to increase the maximum possible is......................................?

 

Nope. 

 

Unless, of course, sentencing guidelines don't let judges/magistrates impose the maximum - in which case, shouldn't the guidelines be changed?

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ITYO - Quite - especially the last sentence!

Start handing out more 'realistic' sentences, heavier financial penalties, enforcing community service orders, stopping drugs/phones/whatever getting into prisons, using bailiffs to collect unpaid fines or remove goods. I can think of a myriad of ways to make breaking the law less than an easy option.

If we, sorry I meant, when we leave the EU, change the law so that prisoners can be made to work to keep their priveledges and or remission. No work -  then a sentence remains at whatever the judge/magistrate dictates in court. Blow this 50% off before you start.

Edited by BIkerider
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They should be given a minimum sentence with no remission. They should be able to increase the sentence for bad behaviour, drugs, violence, mobiles and many others.

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These things come and go and are rather dependent on our own personal experience.

There is limited jail space as we all know. Personally If we are going to prioritise attacking offence types, I'd like to see us targeting the evil before the stupid.

How perverse to my mind to give a life sentence to someone who crashed a car while texting and a grossly lesser sentence to a gang member who bought a firearm and wounded a rival in a busy street with it.

If you spend too long specialised you lose the wider view of everything else is going on- Those white hats can encourage a somewhat narrower view!

Edited by HMService
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4 hours ago, HMService said:

These things come and go and are rather dependent on our own personal experience.

There is limited jail space as we all know. Personally If we are going to prioritise attacking offence types, I'd like to see us targeting the evil before the stupid.

How perverse to my mind to give a life sentence to someone who crashed a car while texting and a grossly lesser sentence to a gang member who bought a firearm and wounded a rival in a busy street with it.

If you spend too long specialised you lose the wider view of everything else is going on- Those white hats can encourage a somewhat narrower view!

I would not disagree with what you say and take the point but; sentencing never has been part of our job, that is for the Courts to decide being in possession of all them evidence. The only time we can ever manage to influence a Court is when we can say that the defendant has assisted the Police, then it is up to the Judge.  I did say earlier "They should be given a minimum sentence with no remission. They should be able to increase the sentence for bad behaviour, drugs, violence, mobiles and many others"  By that I mean that there should be no remission of sentence for good behaviour but an increase for bad behaviour or offending inside.

In the last case of texting, four weeks ago, it was a foreign lorry driver who had his eyes off the road for 40 seconds, or so, and had travelled for approx. a quarter of a mile with his eyes off the road whilst he was using 2 mobile phones and the whole thing was filmed on a camera he had filming inside the cab. He ran into an a previous accident with no braking at all, he was not looking at the road. In that case 4 people were killed. I think that he got 10 years which under the circumstances was reasonable.  I agree that many serious wilful and deliberate offences receive derisory punishments. It is not unknown in the legal profession to able for an adjournment to avoid certain Judges to get a case before a notorious lenient one.

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