YP Comment: Dangerous driving plea - Punishment must fit the crime

Campaigners want to see a review of sentencing rules for dangerous driving offences. (PA).
Campaigners want to see a review of sentencing rules for dangerous driving offences. (PA).
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As an Army Major, Richard Gilbey has been a dedicated servant of his country. Yet when he asked for justice after his beloved son, James, was knocked and down and killed while enjoying a night out with friends, he and his distraught family have been let down by the criminal justice system.

The two men responsible for James’s death had been racing at speeds of 79mph in a 40 zone and fled the scene, before handing themselves in two days later after a huge police manhunt. They were each jailed for eight years but are likely to serve just four, free to then rebuild their lives.

For James Gilbey’s family it is a kick in the teeth. But they are not alone in feeling a profound sense of injustice. An investigation by The Yorkshire Post has revealed that dozens of people convicted of killing by driving dangerously have walked free, with not a single person convicted of this crime ever having been jailed for the maximum 14 year term, leaving the grief-stricken families of the victims to pick up the pieces.

Time after time we have seen heartbroken relatives standing outside courts following the sentencing of motorists whose reckless behaviour has claimed at least 800 lives since 2010. These figures, obtained from the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Prosecution Service, highlight the flaws in a criminal justice system that when it comes to dealing with dangerous drivers is simply too lenient.

This is why The Yorkshire Post is joining the growing chorus of voices calling on the Government to revise its sentencing rules. In the wrong hands a vehicle can be a deadly weapon and yet the penalties for those who kill behind the wheel are wholly inadequate.

The families of innocent victims like James Gilbey are serving a life sentence and we owe it to them to ensure that far stronger deterrents are in place so that people think twice before driving recklessly on our roads in the future.

Gold standard - Broadband pledge must deliver

For many people broadband speed is just as important to them as the state of local schools and having decent transport links. Yet the reality is that far too many homes and businesses are still languishing in the technological dark ages, especially in more remote rural areas.

So the news that the Chancellor Philip Hammond will use tomorrow’s Autumn Statement to announce plans for a £1bn investment in the “gold standard” of broadband across the UK is to be broadly welcomed. The Government says the aim is to boost the country’s digital infrastructure by investing in ‘full-fibre’ broadband that allows people to share digital content faster.

If we are to truly see the roll out of super-fast broadband for everyone then it cannot come quickly enough. At present there are too many communities having to contend with frustratingly slow internet access – there was even a claim by Sheffield Chamber of Commerce earlier this year that broadband speeds in Yorkshire’s second-biggest city were lagging behind those across Europe, offering less than half the speed of villages in Poland and Romania.

This highlights the disparity that exists in certain areas and which must be properly addressed if we are to genuinely have a world class digital infrastructure.

The future sustainability of our communities both in towns and cities and in the countryside is at stake and we simply cannot afford for anyone to be left behind.

The Government’s announcement is a welcome step in the right direction – but it must now deliver on this pledge.

Celebrating Yorkshire’s tourism stars

IT’S an opportunity to shout from the rooftops about the great and good and last night at Welcome to Yorkshire’s White Rose Awards in Harrogate they did just that.

The annual awards event, which is the largest celebration of tourism in the country, attracted more than a thousand people as businesses from across the county went head in 17 different categories – ranging from the best Yorkshire pub and holiday park to tourism event of the year.

Guests at the event were treated to special musical performances from James Bond and Annie, as well as appearances from Yorkshire’s Olympic and Paralympic heroes and stars from the world of stage and TV.

Tourism in Yorkshire is worth a staggering £7bn each year and awards ceremonies like these are a reminder not only of what a truly breathtaking county we live in, but also the great wealth of talent that exists here.