Lollipop staff becoming an endangered species under SNP 

By Bill Heaney

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Willie Rennie MSP has today warned that lollipop staff are becoming an endangered species, after new figures revealed that their numbers have fallen dramatically under successive SNP governments.

Scottish Liberal Democrat freedom of information requests have revealed:

  • Across nine local authorities able to provide figures for both 2007/08 when the SNP came to power and last year (2022/23), the number of lollipop staff has fallen 43% (from 527 to 300).
  • Across 19 local authorities able to provide figures for both 2015/16, shortly after Nicola Sturgeon government took office, and last year, the number of lollipop staff has fallen from 885 to 676 – a 24% decrease.

LibDem Willie Rennie and a lollipop patrol at Dumbarton’s most dangerous crossing at Garshake.

Mr Rennie said:  “These figures show that under successive SNP governments, lollipop staff are becoming an endangered species.

“Crossing staff can help give parents and pupils the confidence that walking to school is the way to go, creating a safe environment and encouraging healthy habits.

“In little ways and large, school services are being rundown thanks to the SNP’s years of cuts to local government budgets.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats would deliver a power surge to local government so that they invest in local services, not just pass on SNP cuts.”

Robyn Fryar

Robyn Fryar was walking home when she was knocked down by a drink-driver

The guidelines would see taking the life of a vulnerable road user as an “aggravating factor” when sentencing.

A tougher penalty might also be imposed if the death resulted from aggressive driving, such as tail-gating.

The new Scottish Sentencing Council guidance is subject to approval by the High Court.

However, it could come into force towards the end of the year or early next year.

It will be the first guideline of its kind in Scotland covering a specific offence.

The sentencing council said it aimed to bring greater consistency and assist public understanding of how highly complex and sensitive cases were dealt with by the courts.

The changes have been welcomed as a step forward by the father of a 15-year-old girl killed in a hit-and-run in 2019.

Iain Fryar
Iain Fryar welcomed the move as a step forward

Iain Fryar’s daughter Robyn was walking home when she was knocked down by a 20-year-old drink-driver in Paisley.

Shaun Gatti was speeding on the wrong side of the road when he struck the teenager and drove off.

Police traced Gatti at his home later that day and found his badly damaged car covered by a tarpaulin.

Gatti admitted causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for five years and three months.

Prosecutors challenged the sentence on the grounds that it was unduly lenient but the jail term was upheld by the appeal court.

Range of sentences

Under the new guideline, the fact that Robyn was a pedestrian could have resulted in a longer sentence and Gatti’s inexperience as a driver would not have been taken into account.

Mr Fryar said: “He’s out already. He only served two-and-a-half years.

“If they don’t toughen up the sentences, it’s not going to stop. Ten or 15 years would be a far more of a deterrent.

“I wouldn’t want any other family to go through what we’ve gone through.”

The guideline sets out a range of sentences going up to 12 years.

As well as dangerous driving, it also covers causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs and and causing death by driving while unlicensed, uninsured or disqualified.

The guideline is not mandatory and judges can choose to go outside the suggested range of sentences.

But they must take the guidelines into account and give reasons if they do not follow them.

The maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving is life.

floral tributes at site of alleged hit and run
Flowers left at the scene of Robyn’s death

Prosecutors can also choose to treat the most serious offences involving death by driving as culpable homicide or murder.

When passing sentence, judges have to determine the seriousness of the offence by deciding how much the driver was to blame.

A number of changes have been made to a draft version of the guideline following a public consultation.

Driving inexperience has been removed as a mitigating factor for all offences apart from causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving, meaning it can’t be put forward as a reason for a more lenient sentence.

Causing a death by dangerous driving while knowingly suffering from a medical or physical condition or failing to follow medical advice or take prescribed medication will result in a sentence in the middle of the range.

Robyn Fryar was 15 when she was knocked down and killed
Robyn Fryar was 15 when she was knocked down and killed

The chair of the sentencing council is Scotland’s second most senior judge, the Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian.

She explained that the guideline is intended to help judges and provide clarity for bereaved families.

“The guideline has been strengthened in a number of areas such as the inclusion of aggressive driving in the highest level of seriousness for death by dangerous driving offences,” she said.

“A number of factors have also been added to the list of aggravations, while sentencing ranges have been increased for certain offences.”

Top picture: A lollipop patrol at one of West Dunbartonshire’s most dangerous road crossings on the A82 at the foot of Garshake. Picture by Bill Heaney

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