One step closer to equal rights for cyclists

Thanks to emails sent by supporters of CTC, the national cycling charity to the Ministry of Justice backing changes to the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the 'Victims Code'), cyclists hit by careless drivers are now one step closer to having the same rights as victims of other crimes. 

Victims of crime are entitled to various rights under the Victims Code, including access to information about police investigations and victim support services. But historically, victims of road crime have been treated differently to other victims. 

This is in large part because the definition of 'victim' did not include many people affected by motoring offences, such as drink driving, careless driving and speeding. This meant that victims of these crimes did not have the same entitlements as victims of other crimes. 

An overarching theme of CTC's Road Justice Campaign is that 'road crime' should be dealt with by the justice system as 'real crime', and not a 'minor road traffic' offence. Treating victims of road crime less seriously, as outlined within CTC's Role of the Police document, always implied the opposite. 

This summer, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) opened a consultation on the Victims' Code, which included possible changes to extend the definition of 'victim' to include the victims of all motoring offences.

CTC responded to this consultation by sending a supportive response to the MOJ. Almost 1800 CTC supporters also sent emails to the MOJ in support of the changes.

On Monday 9 November, the Government announced the following changes to the Victims Code:

  • The definition of victim has been extended to include all victims of crime, including victims of road traffic offences like careless driving, drink driving and speeding. Now, anyone who becomes a victim whilst cycling will be able to access support services and information about prosecution decisions.
  • Victims who report a crime will now receive a written acknowledgement from the police. This will benefit cyclists who have previously had diffculty in getting any recognition from the police. 
  • The Code now applies to the Health and Safety Executive, which will benefit cyclists injured by people driving for work.  

Unfortunately, it's not all good news. The Government refused to extend the Victims' Right to Review scheme to all offences, not just the most serious. This means many cyclists injured in collisions still will not be able to challenge a police decision not to charge a driver.

The Government also refused to include Traffic Commissioners (the regulators of HGVs) and Coroners in the list of bodies that must abide by the Code. The MOJ claim that neither body has an investigative or prosecutorial function and therefore is exempt from following the Code. 

CTC is considering what steps to take next to ensure all road crime victims can challenge decisions not to take action against irresponsible drivers.

If you've been a victim of road crime and you're dissatisfied with the police response, read our guide 'How to make a complaint against the police'.

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