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COPFS

Crown welcomes Sheriff’s call for review

The Crown welcomes Sheriff Beckett’s determination following the fatal accident inquiry into the tragic deaths of the six people who died when a bin lorry crashed in Glasgow city centre last year.

The determination underlines the need for widespread changes in DVLA practices and procedures in line with the Solicitor General’s submissions to the inquiry.

The Solicitor General wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport in October calling for the DVLA system of self-reporting by drivers to be reviewed. The Solicitor General has written again today following the Sheriff’s determination to underline the need to overcome the recognised weakness of self-reporting.

We also note the Sheriff has recommended, in light of these weaknesses, that the Crown, CPS and DVLA should review whether there are policies in place which prevent or discourage prosecution for breaches of section 94 and 174 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. We will take forward with the DVLA consideration of the detection and reporting of these offences.

The Crown has repeatedly made it clear there was insufficient evidence in criminal law to prosecute the driver for the tragic deaths which resulted from this accident or for the wider circumstances including the information the driver provided to the DVLA or his employer.

There are no findings in the determination that undermine the decisions not to prosecute the driver:

• There was no finding that the driver knew or ought to have known that he was unfit to drive on 22 December 2014.

• The Sheriff stated at para 371 that there was no evidence that any doctor told him prior to 22 December 2014 that he had a susceptibility to episodes of neurocardiogenic syndrome, let alone a vasovagal syncope, and that this meant he should not drive.

• Further even if his licence had been revoked following the episode at the wheel of the bus in 2010 it would have been returned to him by the DVLA prior to 22 December 2014 (Paragraph 376).

• We note the Sheriff’s findings on the driver’s motivation to retain or gain employment. It is important to note the sheriff was considering evidence at an FAI where a lesser standard of proof is required and where more relaxed rules of evidence apply. A criminal prosecution requires sufficient evidence to the much higher standard beyond reasonable doubt.

Further information

A copy of the Solicitor General's letter to the the Secretary of State for Transport can be found at the following link:

http://www.copfs.gov.uk/images/LettertoSecretaryofStateforTransport.pdf