Bereaved families ‘must have access to road-death reports’ in Scotland
FAMILIES bereaved in fatal accidents on Scotland’s roads are being victimised by the government’s refusal to grant them full access to investigation reports relating to the tragedies, researchers have claimed.
A report published yesterday by the school of law at Dundee University is calling for families of road death victims to be allowed unfettered access to police reports.
And the report, which was commissioned by Scotland’s Campaign against Irresponsible Drivers (SCID), is also demanding the establishment of an independent road-collision investigation body as part of the government’s road-safety strategy.
The report says: “Scots law is not fulfilling the victim’s rights strategy.
“There is no legal right for the family of a road-death victim to obtain the investigation documents.
“Access to the investigation documents is at the discretion of the procurator fiscal. This leads to inconsistencies in service and secondary victimisation.
“Scotland’s road-safety framework ignores the vital area of post impact care which is an essential ingredient of an effective road-safety strategy.”
According to the report, Scotland currently has no formal procedure allowing grieving families the right to examine police reports and associated documents on fatal accidents.
This is in marked contrast to some countries in Europe where a police report is provided on request, once an investigation has been completed.
The researchers state: “The family of a road-death victim should have a legal right to obtain copies of the investigation documents on completion of the investigation or on conclusion of criminal proceedings. Such a right should be set out in primary legislation.
“Whatever the circumstances of a road death, it is SCID’s experience that bereaved families will wish to access as much information as possible about the fatal collision that will aid the grieving process.”
North east Labour MSP and road-safety campaigner Jenny Marra was presented with the first copy of the report at its launch in Dundee.
She said: “This is an excellent report, setting out clear and sensible recommendations to bring Scotland’s fatal road collision investigations up to the standard of other European nations.
“It is a traumatic time for families when they lose a loved one on the roads, but it is only right that families can have peace of mind and a full understanding.”
Joyce Beasley, the chair of the safety charity, said, “We have long been campaigning in Scotland on behalf of bereaved families.
“This report shows that this is already happening in some other countries throughout Europe and that such a system could be implemented in Scotland.”
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