Consultation on Improving Statistical Services in Scotland.

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1 Consultation on Improving Statistical Services in Scotland. SCID (Scotland s Campagn against Irresponsible Drivers) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Consultation on Improving Statistical Services in Scotland. It may be helpful to provide a brief background about SCID. SCID was formed in 1985 by Wendy Moss following the road death of her only son. SCID s knowledge and experience of road traffic law and how it works in practice has been gained by helping, advising and supporting hundreds of Scottish families whose loved one has been killed or seriously injured as a result of a road crash. From consultation with other victim support organisations the trauma experienced by these victim families are akin to those of victim families who have been bereaved by murder. SCID Objectives: To help and advise victim families of road crashes. To seek to restructure the Law as it applies to Criminal Traffic Offences which have caused Death or Injury. To deter irresponsible drivers by the imposition of more relevant sanctions. To encourage drivers through education, to adopt safer standards. Our response will be to those sections of the consultation which have a bearing on our group. 1

2 1. Are the proposals useful in increasing public confidence in statistics? Should more be done? Before the Scottish Parliament was convened there was a dearth of information on road crashes. We are glad to say that position is improving but there is still much to be done. 1.1 SCID earnestly suggests that the Scottish Executive (SE) follow the lead of ACPOS and Crown Office by referring to road accidents as road crashes/collisions in their publications. An accident suggests something which cannot be avoided. Research at the Transport Research Laboratory has shown that 95% of all road crashes are due to driver error therefore, in the interest and promotion of road safety, crash/collision is the more truthful terminology. 1.2 In the same vein we ask that consideration be given to renaming the SE publication Road Accident Scotland as Road Collisions Scotland. The present Road Accident Scotland publication provides useful detailed data on road crashes but not on those crashes which have resulted in criminal offences. Criminal Proceedings in the Scottish Courts has a section dedicated to Motor Vehicle Offences but is restricted in data collection and reporting by the classification of crimes and offences currently in use. 1.3 Because of the anomalies within the Road Traffic Act (RTA) serious injury plays no part in any offence and death only in some offences. SCID has lobbied for the collection of statistics on motor vehicle offences which have caused death or serious injury. We believe that the gathering of such data is necessary to inform Parliament, road safety organisations, motoring groups etc. and to assist in decision making. 1.4 There are no statistics published on Fatal Accident Inquiries. Fatal Accident Inquiries fall into two categories; those which are mandatory and those which are discretionary. We would welcome publication of the statistics for both categories together with the circumstance in which Fatal Accident Inquiries were granted.. 2

3 2. Should statistics publication be more streamlined e.g. wider access to underlying data rather than descriptive reports? Yes 2.1 SCID welcomed the inclusion in the publication, Criminal Proceedings In Scottish Courts from 2003, of more detailed statistics on Section 1 & 3a of the RTA, i.e. Causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink/drugs. 2.2 SCID asked the Scottish Executive for desegregation of the statistics on the wide ranging Section 3 of RTA, careless driving. This offence spans those incidents of a minor nature to those where a death occurred as a result of careless driving. This information was necessary for a number of reasons: (a) Road deaths are reported as a yearly statistic but for many of these deaths accurate statistics on criminal charges remain unknown. (b) To respond more fully from a Scottish perspective, to Home Office consultations reviewing driving offences in the Road Safety Bill. We are glad to say our comments were taken on board and the information on careless driving offences, where a fatality occurred, is now available on request. 2.3 The very recent passing of the Road Safety Bill in November 2006 will introduce two new causing death offences. We look forward to more detailed statistics on road deaths which have resulted from these criminal offences SCID has made representation to the Scottish Parliament for the collection of data on serious injury road crashes which resulted in a criminal charge. This proposal was considered at the SCOTSTAT meeting of 2 nd June Our understanding was a pilot scheme was to be run by the Northern Constabulary to test for feasibility. The outcome of this pilot has disappeared into the ether and we would welcome an up date by the SCOTSTAT Committee on the pilot scheme together with any further developments. 1 copy also attached in Appendix A. 3

4 3 What do you consider to be different types of government statistics? The statistics on road deaths as collected by the Scottish Executive are based on the police Stats 19 form. The police count a death if it occurs within 30 days of the road crash. If a death occurs after that period it is counted by the General Registrar s Office (GRO). To provide accurate information on road fatalities to Parliament, road safety groups and other interested parties we would suggest the Scottish Executive publish the data as collected by the GRO or publish jointly the police stats with the GRO data thus distinguishing how the data is collected and assuring accuracy. 4 Should we be looking at a new partnership with local authorities and other public bodies for the collection, processing and publication of statistics? Do you have any suggestions on how this could work? All road traffic crashes resulting in serious injuries are not reported to the police. The resulting under reporting of these serious injuries presents inaccurate information to Parliament, road safety groups, media etc on serious road causality statistics. As the Scottish Hospital In-Patient Records collects data on the number of serious injuries caused by road crashes SCID would suggest a partnership or a link to this NHS data. 4

5 Appendix A SCOTSTAT C&J (03) 1- INFORMATION ON FATALITIES AND SERIOUS INJURIES ASSOCIATED WITH MOTORING OFFENCES Introduction 1. This paper relates to a proposal that statistical information be collected on those motoring offences which stemmed from road crashes involving fatalities or serious injuries. Background 2. A paper (J1/03/8/8) by the Clerk of the Scottish Parliament's Justice 1 Committee noted a number of ongoing issues from the first Parliamentary session. Among these were Public Petitions PE29, PE55, PE299, PE331 and PE111 which all related to road traffic offences which have resulted in a fatality or serious injury. The Committee agreed that, among other things, it would like to be kept informed of any developments leading to improved data collection on serious injuries caused by careless driving. 3. The campaign group Scotland's Campaign against Irresponsible Drivers (SCID) has an active interest in the collection and recording of serious injury data associated with motoring offences. SCID has suggested: using ISCJIS offence aggravators or modifiers to identify dangerous and careless driving offences arising from road crashes which involve fatalities or serious injury; and using a definition of "serious injury" equivalent to the current definition of "serious assault" in the SEJD classification of crimes and offences. Statistics currently available 4. Within the criminal justice statistics currently compiled by SEJD, the only cases where it is possible to identify charges associa ted with road fatalities are the relatively small number where the charge involved is either causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs. A total of 34 such offences was recorded by the police in It is not otherwise possible to separately identify offences such as careless driving which arose from road crashes involving fatalities or serious injuries. 5. The injury road accident statistics currently collected from the police by the Scottish Executive do not include any information on whether a charge such as dangerous driving or careless driving results. The police generally provide data for each accident within a few weeks of it occurring, and there is therefore no provision in the statistical system for collecting information about charges that may be brought, or convictions that result, often many months later. The definition of severity of injury 5

6 applied in the road accident statistics is attached for information in the annex of this paper. 6. There are currently no specific offences of causing death/serious injury by careless driving, and hence no underlying operational reasons for the Crown Office or others to include additional information on fatalities/serious injuries associated with careless driving charges in criminal history and case tracking systems. While changes have been made to the Crown Office computer system to enable all fatal road traffic cases to be identified, at present there is no straightforward technical solution to keeping track of careless driving prosecutions where there has been a serious injury. ISCJIS 7. One possible approach to addressing this identified gap in the data available is to consider using ISCJIS modifiers to flag charges of dangerous driving or careless driving which involve serious injury. Indeed, such an approach might be extended to take in other motoring offences such as driving under drink or drugs if thought useful. New crime code(s) could be included in the SEJD classification of crimes and offences. 8. In relation to the proposal to align the definition of what would count as a serious injury with the existing definition of serious assault in the recorded crime statistics, it is worth noting that under the current proposals for the police New Crime Recording System a standardised definition of when the police can use the ISCJIS code for "Assault to severe injury" as opposed to just "Assault" will be developed. The Committee's views on this issue are invited. In part icular it would be helpful to have advice from police and Crown Office representatives on the feasibility and practical considerations of recording and collecting the information involved, either via ISCJIS offence modifiers, or by any other means. JUSTICE STATISTICS UNIT May 2003 Annex For the purposes of the Road Accidents statistical returns: a fatal injury is one which causes death less than 30 days after the accident; a fatal accident is an accident in which at least one person is fatally injured; a serious injury is one which does not cause death less than 30 days after the accident, and which is in one (or more) of the following categories: (a) an injury for which a person is detained in hospital as an in-patient or (b) any of the following injuries (whether or not the person is detained in hospital): 6

7 fractures, concussion, internal injuries, crushings, severe cuts and lacerations, severe general shock requiring treatment or (c) any injury causing death 30 or more days after the accident; a serious accident is one in which at least one person is seriously injured, but no-one suffers a fatal injury; a "slight" injury is any injury which is neither "fatal" nor "serious" - for example, a sprain, bruise or cut which is not judged to be severe, or slight shock requiring roadside attention; a "slight" accident is one in which at least one person suffers "slight" injuries, but no-one is seriously injured, or fatally injured. 7

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