27 October 2015
Fatal Cycling Accidents and Prosecutions
The former Director of Public Prosecutions has called for a change to the way fatal cycling accident cases are handled.
Sir Keir Starmer, who is now Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras, has argued there is a “very strong case” for the Crown Prosecution Service to have the final say on whether to prosecute motorists who cause cycling accidents.
The former DPP appeared on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme earlier this week in a report highlighting how the criminal justice system sometimes fails cyclists. Currently in England and Wales, it is the police who decide whether or not to pass a case on to the CPS for prosecution, but as Sir Keir told the BBC: “I think there’s a very strong case for saying, where there’s a death involved, if it’s serious enough to have had a criminal investigation then it really should go off to the CPS for the final decision.”
The CPS says that cases should be referred to a prosecutor as early as possible.
Fatal Cycling Accidents at 15-Year High
Last year, 113 cyclists were killed on our roads – the highest number of cycling deaths since 1999.
In London, fatal cycling accidents involving HGVs continue to be a major worry. Since 2011, 34 cyclists have been killed in collisions with lorries. So far in 2015, eight cyclists have lost their lives in accidents involving HGVs.
A Freedom of Information Request by the BBC revealed that over the last seven years, only 148 people were prosecuted for killing a cyclist. Of those found guilty, less than half went to prison.
In my experience as a cycling accident solicitor, the referral of fatal cycling accidents or serious cycling injuries to the Crown Prosecution Service can often be a slow process and there can sometimes be a tendency to lay the responsibility for the collision on the cyclist.
Sir Keir Starmer is right in that, in fatal and serious cycling accident cases, it is the CPS who should make the final decision on whether or not a motorist should be prosecuted.
Richard Gaffney is Slater and Gordon’s Principal Lawyer for the CTC, the UK’s national cycling charity.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have secured more than £40 million in compensation for CTC Members who have been injured in cycling accidents since 2002.