Local MP Stephen Mosley, for the City of Chester, is backing a campaign for support for road crash victims, by Brake, the road safety charity, and Leigh Day and Co. Solicitors.
Together they are raising awareness of the forgotten victims: road crash victims who suffer appallingly through a sudden and violent death or serious injury, but often struggle to get desperately needed support. The campaign is being launched at a reception in Parliament, days after the government announced plans to inject a further £50m in improving support for victims, which will be partly generated by a rise in fines collected from to law-breaking, risky drivers.
They are appealing to government to use the planned rise in driving offence fines to significantly increase funding for road crash victim support, ensuring that comprehensive, specialist support is available to all affected families following a serious crash.
Stephen Mosley MP said: “It’s difficult to imagine the terrible pain of a loved one dying or being seriously injured on the road, but it is something families across the UK, including in this constituency, have to face every day. I believe these families shouldn’t have to face this alone. They deserve support in coping with the emotional turmoil it brings, but also practical and day-to-day help in dealing with the consequences of the crash. It shouldn’t be down to traumatised family members to seek out support: it should be there, and easily accessible, to help them through their darkest hours.”
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Road crashes are sudden and violent events that leave families reeling with shock and struggling to cope with the practical and emotional consequences. These families desperately need help and support, but often are left out in the cold. While victims of burglary are automatically offered face-to-face support funded by government, there is no such offer for bereaved and seriously injured crash victims.
“It is vital the government recognises the profound needs of road crash victims, and their right to appropriate support, given that they are suffering due to man-made, preventable and often criminal events. The government is planning to increase fines for law-breaking, dangerous drivers; these funds should be ploughed into developing comprehensive support that’s available to all serious crash victims, to help these families cope with the terrible circumstances they find themselves in.”
Sally Moore, Head of personal injury, Leigh Day & Co solicitors said: “We increasingly find that our clients, whether seriously injured or bereaved by road crashes, are completely in the dark when it comes to understanding how the criminal process works. As solicitors who specialise in road crash cases, we are able to support our clients and their families through this complex process and in doing so help them find out what has happened. From my own experience it is clear that providing that specialist support to families who have frequently had their lives devastated by a road crash enables them to cope better and engage with the process.”
About the campaign:
Road deaths and serious injuries cause horrendous suffering. Every day five UK families will learn their loved one will never be coming home, will never smile or speak to them or hold them again, because they have been suddenly killed in a road crash. A further 66 families have to come to terms with the turmoil and pain of a serious injury, many permanent and life-changing.
These needless casualties are sudden, violent, man-made and often result from criminal behaviour. The bereaved and injured victims often experience long-term and acute emotional suffering and other serious implications such as debt, health problems and social isolation.
Despite this, there is no comprehensive government-funded support automatically offered following a serious crash, and no government funding at all for support for families bereaved or very seriously injured in road crashes where there is no criminal prosecution.
In 2011 the Victims’ Commissioner recognised that those bereaved through culpable road death suffer similarly to those bereaved through homicide, and have similar support needs. And yet for every £10 spent on homicide support, less than £1 is spent on supporting bereaved victims of road crime, despite the fact that there are far more deaths on roads than homicides.
Brake is calling for the government to ensure that no bereaved or very seriously injured victim of a road crash is forgotten, and left without the support they desperately need. This means funding comprehensive specialist support and information for all bereaved or very seriously injured road crash victims that is appropriate to their needs. This support should be proactively offered in a timely way as promptly as possible following a road crash. Read more about Brake’s campaign.
About Brake’s support services
Brake is a UK-wide provider of specialist support services, which are accessed by thousands of bereaved and seriously injured crash victims each year. Our support packs are given to families by police following all road deaths in the UK (funded by the Ministry of Justice in England and Wales, Scottish Government in Scotland, and PSNI in Northern Ireland), and our helpline (part-funded by the Ministry of Justice, and part-funded by commercial sponsors) receives about 1,600 calls each year. These services provide crucial emotional support plus information and advocacy on practical procedures, and signposting to local and specialist sources of help, such as group support by other charities and counselling.
But although these services provide a lifeline to many, they are not nearly as comprehensive or well-funded as those afforded to other victims bereaved or injured through criminal acts, such as homicide or GBH. Our packs remain the only government-funded support automatically provided to bereaved road crash victims. Read more about Brake’s support services.
Members of the public, organisations and schools can support Brake’s work to ease the suffering of road crash victims and to prevent road casualties by running fundraisers or making a donation. See www.brake.org.uk/fundraise.