The Sentencing Guidelines Council is seeking the views of the public as part of a consultation exercise on appropriate sentences for drivers who cause death. The consultation is prompted partly by the fact that Parliament has increased the maxmumi sentence — which is normally, though not inevitably, a signal to increase all sentences for an offence pro rata — for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving and partly by the fact two completely new offences have been created, causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving and causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured driver.
The problem with this sort of offence, of course, is that the harm actually caused — death — is extreme but the offender’s culpability may range from very grave (e.g. driving extremely recklessly while drunk) to something far more minor — momentary carelessness or inattention caused by inexperience or unfamiliar road conditions, perhaps, or a sudden distraction inside the car.
Anyway, the Sentencing Guidelines Council has published a Consultation paper on causing death by driving offences, on which it would welcome written responses from the public by 19th April.
On the topic of sentencing in general, people might be interested (also via Bystander JP, from an earlier post) in two thoughtful speeches by Sir Igor Judge on sentencing; Sir Igor is a very senior member of the judiciary whose speeches are always, as Bystander says, carefully reasoned and calmly argued and, consequently, of no appeal to the popular press.
There’s one here, delivered last November, on sentencing and public protection, and one from the previous November on The Sentencing Decision, which particularly addresses sentencing and the public perception of crime. These both, I think, give a very valuable insight into the complexities of this aspect of the judge’s job, balancing, as he must, the various demands of punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation in an attempt to protect the public.