Monday, 16 November 2015

When is a crime not a crime ?

When it's a 'Road Crime' !
But why ?
Imagine if 'Firearms Offences' were not counted as 'Criminal Offences' : compare and contrast !

"He's alright, is Arthur. So he's got a couple of Nelson Riddles (fiddles) going - who ain't ?
It don't make make you a villain, do it ?
And he sells the odd dodgy motor now and then - well, it ain't a crime now, is it ?
Yes, it is !
Well, yea ... it's a crime, technically, yeah.
But it's a bit under the arm the way the filth sit on his daily giving him GBH on the ear'ole all the time I mean, just 'cos he happens to have done a bit of bird for petty when he was a saucepan."
I was first alerted to this by a Tweet from Martin Porter QC.
Police evidence to @CommonsTrans: … Give us discretion to let them ride on the pavement/ maybe sort this video thing?
Evidence from the National Police Chiefs Council to The Transport Committee inquiry into road traffic law enforcement (to scrutinise how effectively the Government's policies to improve road safety - by tackling dangerous or careless driving - are being enforced).
"... concentrating collective efforts on those threats and risks that impact disproportionately on the most vulnerable."
"The Home Office has set only one reduce crime. This can potentially have adverse consequences for Roads Policing." 

Shows Police or  Home Office don't regard 'Road Policing' as reducing 'Crime'!?

Are 'Traffic Offences' really 'Criminal Offences' ?

Criminal justice statistics

The statistics published include:
  • Criminal statistics (NS)
  • Motoring offences and breath test statistics (NS)
Actually no separate 'Motoring' statistics are currently listed.
'Summary offences (motoring and non-motoring)' seem to be lumped together.
Why not just call the whole lump 'Summary offences'?

National Crime Recording Standard

 ‘It is vital to measure crime accurately if we are to tackle it effectively’
(Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, Home Secretary, July 2001)

Recorded crime list

The classifications defined in this Appendix are those used for crime recorded by the police and notifiable to the Home Office.
Recorded crime covers all indictable and triable-either-way offences. Additionally, a few closely associated summary offences are included.
The crimes on this list are termed notifiable offences and their listing is referred to as the notifiable offences list (NOL).

Violence against the person – with injury
4.4 Causing death by dangerous driving Limited to causing death by reckless driving between 1977 and 1991.
4.6 Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs
4.8 Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving 

How many (a) arrests were made and (b) prosecutions conducted for road traffic offences in each of the last five years ?

Home Office collects arrest data for notifiable offences at offence group level.
The Home Office also collected police recorded crime data at offence code level for notifiable offences.
Road traffic offences, including drink-driving, using a handheld mobile phone while driving and dangerous driving are non-notifiable offences.
The Home Office does collect data on the following:
• The number of breath tests carried out by police, and the number of these that are positive/refused
• The number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issue for various motoring offences, including use of a handheld mobile phone while driving, careless driving and speeding offences
• The number of offences recorded by police for ‘causing death by dangerous driving’, ‘causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving’ and ‘causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs’.
Ministry of Justice publish data on prosecutions for road traffic offences. 

Offender Education

I don't think many other offenders are offered a day's training for their crimes, as an alternative to fines, Fixed Penalty Notices or court convictions.

It is notable that Insurers have started asking drivers if they have been on a course : Police are resisting this in the hope that trained drivers are safer than average - it could even be true.
Or maybe not ?
Legal advice is that attendance on an NDORS course is not a conviction, nor should it be treated as a conviction, unlike a fixed penalty.
Does going on a course involve acceptance of guilt (as accepting a caution does) ?
Or Fixed Penalty Notice - beware that link appears to be extremely prejudiced !
The courts have no authority or power in law to order or offer an NDORS course as they are completely within the preserve of the Police.

Transforming the Criminal Justice System - RoadPeace, March 2014

  • The overall focus is on expedition and reducing costs, through early guilty pleas, fewer cases being tried in the Crown Court and “proportionate case build”
  • Road crime is still seen as a mere summary offence, rather than a leading cause of wrongful death, injury and intimidation
  • Victims perceived to have suffered systemic neglect are prioritised. These include victims of violence against women and girls and child sexual abuse, hate crime, and gun and knife crime
  • Victims of road crime are systemically neglected. They are uncounted and suffer from lack of support and information. The real challenge is that this neglect is intentional as seen by the new Victim’s Code exclusion of all victims of summary motoring offences. This includes those injured, including grievously, by drink/drug driving, careless driving, speeding, hit and run, etc
  • Conclusion Whilst this strategy is intended to ensure a common set of outcomes within the CJS, it does not represent joined up thinking with transport or public health policy. At a time when the government is promoting walking and cycling, this strategy and action plan includes no actions to support this policy. Instead it only fuels fears that road danger and law breaking on the road is treated with complacency by the CJS. It is only recently that the interdependency of transport and public health has been realised. And whilst there is more appreciation by transport authorities of the key role that the CJS has in reducing road danger, this has not meant it is a priority for the CJS. Instead traffic remains viewed as a high volume low value problem with victims not even mentioned in criminal charges. 
  • Code of Practice for Victims of Crime
    - amended Nov 2015 so you don't have to be killed to qualify for support - some summary offences added.

Road traffic law enforcement inquiry - [UK Parliament ]

  • more submissions
  • Oral evidence: Police - see The Cycling Lawyer: November 2015
  • Written evidence from the CTC - [ worth reading ]
  • Speed Cameras Do Not Reduce Accidents - [ Idris Francis - Google Custom Search ]
  • Written evidence from the RAC

    FPNs less effective than cameras - need more RP Officers
  • Written evidence from Mr Martin Porter QC - [ worth reading ]
    Comments on his blog
  • Written evidence from Mary Manning - [ worth reading ]
  • Written evidence from PACTS
    - The purpose of road traffic law enforcement is to achieve compliance - not to a reach target number of penalties or prosecutions. Road policing not only improves road safety but also contributes towards improved traffic flow and detection and prevention of criminality.
    - Road Safety Framework outcomes
    16. The indicator for number of motoring offences includes a wide variety of offences but does not include any parking, waiting or road obstruction offences. The number of reported offences is calculated from the sum of fixed penalty notices and summons issued. The number of motoring offences has decreased every year since 2006 (fig.3). This is likely to be due to the introduction of diversion courses (NDORS) and a reduction in levels of roads policing. The reductions in speed, alcohol consumption and, to some extent, in traffic volumes during the economic recession will also have tended to reduce offending.
    51. Local authorities have greater flexibility in setting speed limits. This has resulted in a considerable increase in areas with 20mph speed limits. These have been backed by signs, publicity and some road engineering measures but little police enforcement. The actual reductions in speed or casualties still require evaluation.
    - FOIA showed that 43% of drivers eligible for disqualification actually kept their licence, many pleading ‘exceptional hardship’ [Can so many be exceptional ?]
    -‘Driving whilst disqualified’ is a serious offence often linked with collisions. Yet it was reassigned as a summary offence some while ago and is not on the ‘Offences Brought to Justice’ list.
    - In sum, remedial courses should be available to courts for lesser offenders either eligible for a ‘totting’ disqualification or as a condition of sentence with a reduced length ban, to improve poor driving standards and to offer a ‘last chance’. For the worst offenders, police enforcement efforts to keep dangerous and reckless drivers off the road should be encouraged (by including DWD to the OBJ list, and by exploiting mainstream and motoring offending links), and licensing loopholes should be removed
  • Written evidence from the Alliance of British Drivers
    4.1 All road users have a duty towards all other road users to act in a safe and responsible manner on the roads. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time and no one should assume that another road user will always act in the way they expect. Enforcement of road traffic law can never be total, so cyclists and pedestrians, as well as drivers, should not be encouraged to rely upon it to ensure their safety, as this could lead to a false sense of security. Enforcement is no substitute for road user vigilance. [Just a hint of victim-blaming and 'Get out of our way' ...]
  • Written evidence from David Harris
  • Written evidence from the Drivers’ Union
  • Written evidence from John Morrison - speed cameras
    Nobody would think of measuring crime levels through murders and serious assaults alone
  • Written evidence from Francis Bernstein - speed cameras
  • Written evidence from Cycling Scotland
    recommendations in the House of Commons Transport Committee Sixteenth Report of Session 2003–04 into Traffic Law and its Enforcement: “4. Roads policing must be one of the strategic priorities of police work, otherwise it will not be properly valued and resourced
  • Written evidence from DfT
    Comparative Vulnerability of Different Road User Groups (per billion passenger miles)

  • Roger Geffen, Campaigns and Policy Director, CTC, gave evidence
    Dear Roger Thanks for representing us at The Transport Committee inquiry into road traffic law enforcement, 23/11/2015. Many points seem to invite further comment - there's probably loads you didn't have time to say, but here's my 2p-worth ! "drivers need to know the fact that there is a good reason why cyclists move out into the traffic lane" Yes, this is key. I have a strongly-growing feeling that the worst of our troubles come from motorists trying to force us 'back into the gutter where we belong'. 3 motorbikers Forever Computing Ducati Dragons MadMax99 Matt Stockdale Michael Gledhill jockey guy 2-abreast van-man "the close overtake, where they are probably just not aware of the extent to which that intimidates the cyclist" Perhaps I'm paranoid, but I think there is often a deliberate intention to intimidate - hence the widely-used term 'punishment pass' ! I emailed previously suggesting pushing for improvements to the Highway Code, (mostly to encourage drivers to accept primary position) but am struggling to come up with re-wordings, nor do I see much likelihood of changes happening. Also drivers seem to just make up rules for cyclists (eg not 2-abreast), so ignorance of the code will limit the effect of any changes. It needs doing, but there may be better things to do first. When asked what percentage have passed a cycling proficiency test, it would have been worth saying that 80% (?) of (adult) cyclists have passed the driving test ! Having covered testing, insurance, speeding, phones and headphones, I suppose we can be thankful they didn't ask about hi-viz, registration/numberplates and taxation ! One additional law that has been much discussed would be a specified 'safe passing distance'. As with speed limits, it is a crude generalisation, perhaps best covered by 'drive to the conditions'. Clearance at 20mph need not be as great as at 70mph. Usually drivers lie or are optimistic in their judgement, as in CycleGaz's taxi driver "I was nowhere near you when you banged on the side of my cab!" I note USA have come up with a measuring device - until we all have them it's their word against ours. Calibrating GoPros might be better. I agree with the Careless/Dangerous distinction not working - it feels like a pity they legalised Reckless Driving. I might look at Hansard to try to understand why - I guess the problem is all driving is reckless, given the definition 'knowing that a risk existed, you went ahead and took that risk, regardless of the consequences' ! "the importance of getting the police ... better trained in understanding cycle safety" ddansky Howard+Lewis "Do you think extra measures are needed to protect pedestrians?" Perhaps it goes without saying, but there would be fewer cyclists in pedestrian areas if the roads (ie drivers) were less hostile. "Do you know what percentage of those accidents involved cyclists who did not have lights or reflectors on their bikes?" If you're looking at such statistics, collisions with pedestrians on unlit rural roads would be an interesting comparison. Prosecutions for cycle lights ? Op Safeway should have quite a few - I think they gave out or sold the missing hardware on the spot - may not have published statistics, though ? Outside London it's going to be near-nil - they don't even really bother with motor-vehicle lighting - 10-20% seem defective here in Northampton !
  • David Davies, Executive Director, PACTS
    Needs ownership by Home Office and the Ministry of Justice as well as the Department for Transport

There are two measures of the severity of a class of offence :

Mode of trial

Which Cases can be Tried in Which Court? 

  • Indictable only offences may only be tried in the Crown Court (before judge and jury). 
  • Triable either way offences may be tried either in the magistrates' court (summary trial) or in the Crown Court (trial on Indictment). 
  • In general, summary offences may only be dealt with in the magistrates' court.

Home Office Counting Rules - Police Recorded Crime - PRC

These define how police record crimes and notify them to the HO (and HMIC?)
Notifiable offences include all offences that could possibly be tried by jury (these include some less serious offences, such as minor theft that would not usually be dealt with this way) plus a few additional closely-related offences, such as assault without injury.
The notification threshold is when a crime seems to have happened.
The eventual 'outcome' is recorded after investigation : sanction detection; non-sanction detection; no-crime; etc
I guess Summons/Charges, Fixed Penalty Notices are 'sanctions' : a 'verbal warning' or caution is a non-sanction detection (involves an admission of guilt) (goes on record, but is not disclosable for CRB/DBS checks) : and Speed Awareness Courses probably don't even count as a detection ( are not convictions - no admission of guilt ) ! This field is complex, and I could well be wrong - sources disagree and rules change.

There is a hierarchy - I am interested in 

  • Violence against the Person 

    • Homicide 
      • 1 Murder 
      • 4/1 Manslaughter 
      • 4/10 Corporate Manslaughter 
      • 4/2 Infanticide
    • Violence with injury 
      • 2 Attempted Murder 
      • 4/3 Intentional Destruction of a Viable Unborn Child 
      • 4/4 Causing Death or Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving 
      • 4/6 Causing Death by Careless Driving under the Influence of Drink or Drugs 
      • 4/7 Cause or Allow Death or Serious Physical Harm to Child or Vulnerable Person 
      • 4/8 Causing Death by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving 
      • 4/9 Causing Death or Serious Injury by Driving: Unlicensed, Disqualified or Uninsured Drivers 
      • 5D Assault with Intent to cause Serious Harm 
      • 5E Endangering Life 
      • 8N Assault with injury 
      • 8P Racially or Religiously Aggravated Assault with injury 
      • 37/1 Causing Death by Aggravated Vehicle Taking
    • Violence without injury
      • 3A Conspiracy to Murder 
      • 3B Threats to Kill 
      • 8L Harassment 
      • 8M Racially or Religiously Aggravated Harassment 
      • 8Q Stalking 
      • 11A Cruelty to Children/Young Persons 
      • 13 Child Abduction 
      • 14 Procuring Illegal Abortion 
      • 36 Kidnap 
      • 104 Assault without Injury on a Constable 
      • 105A Assault without Injury 
      • 105B Racially or Religiously Aggravated Assault without Injury 
      • 106 Modern Slavery

    British Crime Survey

    Now called 'Crime Survey England & Wales'
    2011 crime list includes 
    Criminal damage to a motor vehicle (£20 or under) 
    but not the five PRC offences of Causing death by driving !
    (I only see four ? Maybe reckless ?)
    Why ????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Bizarrely, CSEW asked offenders to confess to their own 'Self-reported drink and drug driving' in 2011 and 2012 !
    It has resulted in new drug-driving offences.

    (Beware CSEW also = East-West Cycle Superhighway !)

    RoadPeace submission

    What counts gets counted. And victims of road traffic crime are not counted. They are not included in the Crime Survey of England and Wales. In 2015, it should be possible to know how many people were killed by law breaking drivers. But this data1 is not collated. Dangerous driving has been downgraded. It no longer qualifies as violent crime but is now grouped under “miscellaneous/other crimes against society” in crime statistics. 

    Roadsafe London

    Police should be involved in any situation where the general public feel unable to do certain things because of fear arising from the behaviour of others. To use a somewhat stereotyped analogy: if elderly people felt unable to walk to the local shops on their own because of groups of youths behaving threateningly, the police would apply the law to reduce the threatening behaviour and create an environment where people felt safe doing what they wanted to do. 

    See Also

    Scottish Crime Recording Standard
    Should Drivers Be Jailed? - [ The Drivers' Union ]  - Keith Peat is the most extreme motorist
    eg "Why is it that cyclists are so keen on retribution and jail after a horrid accident? It's occasions such as this that drivers are entitled to demand that 'unnecessary hazards' are removed from roads."
    Driving on pavements is illegal but parking on them isn't, confirms Britain’s top traffic cop - [ Roads Were Not Built For Cars ]
    The Sun is wrong: speeding drivers are criminals - [ The Guardian ]
    The message is clear in the UK – if you’re a cyclist, your life does not matter. - [ CycleBath ]
    List of UK driving licence endorsements - [ Wikipedia ]
    Why do drivers get away with attempted murder? - [ Telegraph ]
    Thursday morning traffic chaos as crash blocks routes into Leeds and Sheffield - [ Yorkshire Evening Post ]
    unfortunealy the police now have to treat accidents not as accidents but as crime scenes so the area has to be closed whilst evidence is gathered etc.
    the bizzies have to do this as it conveniently helps them avoid doing their proper jobs which is fighting crime
    Civil vs criminal driving offences - [ The AnswerBank: Law ]
    The case for treating littering as a civil offence - [ Clean Highways ] - fixed penalty notices (FPNs) are not served under civil powers: they are a criminal penalty
    Transport Committee to publish road traffic law enforcement report - [ UK Parliament ]
    Comparing Police Data (STATS19) with CSEW - [ ] - seems to rate CSEW for traffic !
    Motor vehicle offences (RAS61) - Statistical data sets - [ GOV.UK ] - 'findings of guilt at all courts FPNs and written warnings'
    Government moves towards ending the discrimination against road crash victims - [ RoadPeace Justice Watch ]
    Inquests: road death verdict needed now more than ever - [ RoadPeace Justice Watch ] - 'death by bad driving' not 'unlawful killing' !
    If road crime was treated as real crime, we’d ban blindspots and dangerous drivers - [ RoadPeace Justice Watch ]
    Drivers who kill ‘should face prospect of life in prison’ says police expert - [ The Times ] - merging of road traffic and homicide laws to impose stronger penalties on those found guilty of killing cyclists or pedestrians ?
    Road Crime is just that, so let's call it Road Crime - [ ]
    Cycling deaths: Fewer than half of drivers face jail - [ BBC Newsbeat ]
    5,445 speeders caught on north of Scotland roads - [ ]

    "Why don't you lot concentrate on catching some real criminals? - Like motorists?" - []