It has been an honour to work with Jonny Wood and his family to fight for justice for Jacqueline Wileman. Many will know that last year Jackie was killed by four known criminals who stole a lorry and recklessly drove it through Brierley. They had a hundred convictions between them, including one for death by dangerous driving. Yet, they will only serve between five to seven years each. This is an outrage. And the law must be changed.
I know many people across the community were deeply affected by Jacqueline’s death. The bravery of her family in campaigning to get the law changed in memory of Jacqueline has been inspirational.
Despite one of the individuals being on probation at the time and suspected in the theft of the vehicle, attempts to locate the stolen lorry were limited. Cuts to police services mean there are fewer police on the street. This tragic case sadly shows how the justice system let down the family every step of the way. From police cuts to probation to sentencing.
Even after they were behind bars the law couldn’t send the offenders to prison for long enough. Currently, the maximum sentence is 14 years. Yet, they will likely serve fewer. The sentence should be life. And we have been campaigning for that change to be made.
Jacqueline’s family have worked tirelessly to change the law on dangerous driving to prevent this tragedy from occurring again. This summer I met with Johnny Wood the then Justice Secretary to campaign for increasing the maximum sentence to life.
Expert judges, charities and the 160,000 people who signed a petition this year all agree that lenient sentences for death caused by dangerous driving should be scrapped.
Since I was elected, holding the government to account on their failure to fulfil their promise to raise the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving has been one of my biggest concerns.
In addition to meeting with the then Justice Secretary, I have asked a number of questions of the Government, given speeches in the House of Commons and written to the Ministry of Justice on this issue. I have also met with the road safety charity Brake that works across the UK to stop the tragedy of road deaths and injuries as well as supporting people who have been bereaved. And recently, myself Jonny Wood and his wife Jill meeting with the Community Rehabilitation Company, a probation service, to discuss how convicted criminals are supervised and what can be done to stop them from reoffending.
There needs to be change across the board to our justice system. This tragic case sadly reflected a failing at every part of our justice system.
Every step of the way victims’ families are being let down by the fragmented and flawed justice system.
I am clear that we need tougher sentences, more funding to police forces and a tightening of probational rules. I will continue to fight for a better justice system. One that stands up for victims and their families.