Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Recommendation that Scottish families get access to road death reports

Car accidentI happened to see a news item that touched on events in my past, and I thought it might be worthwhile giving it a little more publicity, lest it affect anyone else more directly, or they wished to support the proposal.

My own experience was far too long ago to be affected by this, but it was concerned with a fatal road accident, and although I was very young at the time, I was more than aware that my elders were more than mystified by the case, as the driver who caused the accident and fatality had been drinking, but as far as I know, no action whatsoever was taken against him. There was no question that he was 100% at fault, having ignored a red light at a city centre road junction, and rammed another car off the road as a result.

Remarkably, three other occupants in the rammed car walked away uninjured – the fourth lay in coma in Glasgow’s Victoria Infirmary for a week, kept alive by machines and tubes… until the doctors delivered the news that there was no hope, and that the machines were in reality merely keeping a dead body functioning – and that this would end within a few minutes of their being turned off.

With no action taken against the man who caused the death, I know my elders were shattered by their unexplained loss, and the lack of action against him, as he was clearly guilty of a number of offences.

They never recovered from the shock. I was probably lucky enough to have been young enough to know something terrible had happened, but still not old enough to realise exactly what – and had been shielded from the worst by the rest of the family, who decided I would not be allowed to enter the intensive care room. Those who did visit found it hard to come to terms with what they saw, and accept the result, as there was not a single mark resulting from the crash, although it had ultimately been fatal.

It seems that the lack of information was, and still is the norm in such cases, and that families/relatives are not properly informed after such events, as I see a recent study has recommended that the families of Scottish road death victims be given access to the various reports produced in relation to the accident investigation:

It suggests granting access to investigation reports would help families through the grieving process.

At present there is no formal procedure to allow families access to police reports on collisions.

The study has recommended the creation of an independent body to carry out in-depth safety investigations into all fatal road collisions alongside the police, similar to that which exists in Finland.

Lessons from Europe

The new organisation would provide a legal right of access to the police report and associated documents on completion of the investigation or on conclusion of criminal proceedings.

It seems that such information releases are already considered the norm in Europe, so there should not really be any problem in having the same service provided here:

Vikki Long, a researcher in the School of Law at Dundee who compiled the report, said: “It is very encouraging to learn that legal procedures and practices exist in several European countries that could have a positive influence on the development of Scots law in relation to access to information following a fatal road collision.

“If these were adopted in Scotland it would reduce some of the anguish experienced by those bereaved by road death.”

The first copy of these findings have been presented to Jenny Marra, MSP for North East Scotland.

From Crash reports publication call

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September 5, 2012 - Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , ,

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