Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage today welcomed a decision by the Government to keep dangerous drivers off the road for longer, and continued her campaign for an increase in the maximum sentence for dangerous driving. A decision announced by the Government will mean someone convicted of dangerous driving will now serve their driving ban upon release – rather than at the same time as their prison sentence. A review of current sentencing guidelines will soon take place, and the local MP urged those who believe this appalling crime deserves a longer sentence to sign the petition calling for an increase in the maximum sentence: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/67911.
Having written to the Justice Minister and raised the issue previously at Prime Minister Questions, Caroline took the opportunity of a Westminster Hall debate led by fellow MP Alok Sharma to push for a change in the sentencing guidelines.
Speaking in the debate Caroline said, "It was a year ago yesterday that two teenage girls from my constituency were mown down by a gentleman who was driving over twice the speed limit on a cocktail of drugs, and for that crime he received a 9 year prison sentence; which amounts to just 4.5 years per life. Does the Honourable Gentleman agree with me that this is absolutely inadequate for the life sentence that he has inflicted upon their families?"
The sentiment was shared by all MPs in a sombre debate in Westminster, as families of victims of dangerous driving looked on. In a sympathetic response, Government Minister Mike Penning, said that while he didn't wish to pre-empt the review, "we do need to look very carefully to see if the punishment fits the crime."
In a positive move he also said that he found it "completely perverse" that the driving ban and prison sentence for someone found guilty of dangerous driving run concurrently, and that the Government would change this even without the review of sentencing.
Commenting outside the chamber, Caroline said "This is a really important step forward: it's ridiculous that someone could essentially skip their driving ban through time in prison. I welcome this move by the Government to keep dangerous drivers off our streets for longer. Now we need to see progress on sentencing. I really would encourage all those who believe that this shocking crime, which rips apart families across the country, deserves a more fitting punishment to sign the petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/67911."