MASS: DfT figures show that MoJ reform proposals are based on misleading RTA casualty figures

Monday 16 January 2017 – Immediate release

  • Newly published DfT figures highlight around 500,000 road traffic casualties that go unreported to the police
  • DfT figures published in Parliament undermine one of the key pillars for the MoJ’s case for soft tissue proposals

Figures recently published (11 January 2017) in Parliament in response to a Parliamentary Question1 from Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, have undermined one of the key pillars of the Ministry of Justice’s case for seeking to change the personal injury claims process.

The figures show the Department for Transport’s best estimate of the number of road accident casualties that go unreported to police, based on hospital admissions and other collected data.

The DfT estimates that between 2011 and 2015, around 460,000 “slight” injuries per year went unreported to the police, with around 60,000 serious injuries from RTAs also going unreported.

Simon Stanfield, Chair of MASS, said:

“It is hugely disappointing that the Ministry of Justice has adopted the tactic of selectively using DfT data to try and justify its attack upon the rights of motor accident victims. The DfT’s best estimate is that there are around 710,000 people injured on our roads each year, but MoJ have cherry-picked the figures to suit their agenda.

What we need is evidence-based policy to tackle the issues in the claims sector, not continued attempts to ignore the evidence of the number of road casualties to suit its policy agenda. With the evidence now before Parliament in black and white, the MoJ must now acknowledge that its evidence base for these proposals is seriously and perhaps fatally flawed.”

The MoJ have systematically chosen to ignore the evidence from the DfT of a further half a million RTA casualties that have never been included in their calculations. Instead, MoJ Ministers and supporters of the proposals have chosen to focus on reported accidents only and have regularly used the false argument that whilst accidents have declined by 26% since 2006, claims have gone up by 50%.2

The Ministry of Justice’s recent consultation paper once again focused on reported accidents only, rather than including the best estimates (which have a 90% statistical reliability) of unreported casualties in their evidence-gathering:

“This increase [in claims] over the last decade has coincided with a decrease in RTAs reported to the police from around 190,000 in 2006 to around 142,000 in 2015.” (para 10, page 9)

Such statements ignore the DfT’s best estimate that there are around 710,000 people injured in road traffic accidents (reported and unreported) each year. The DfT’s ‘Reported road casualties in GB: Main results 2015’ report (published 29 September 2016) detailing its estimate of the number of unreported accidents says:

“The current best estimate is that around 710 thousand people are injured to some degree in road traffic accidents each year. Of these, only around 191 thousand casualties are reported to the police and recorded in Stats19. This suggests that about 519 thousand casualties are unreported a year, of which roughly 57 thousand probably had a serious injury.” (page 2, Reported road casualties Great Britain: 2015 annual report)

Notes to editors:

1  The full Parliamentary Question is set out below:

Roads: Accident (answered 11 January 2017)

Louise Ellman (Chair, Transport Committee): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate his Department has made of the number of road accident casualties that have been (a) seriously and (b) slightly injured that have been unreported to the police in each of the last three years (58963)

Andrew Jones: The below table shows the best estimate of the number of road accident casualties in Great Britain that have been (a) seriously and (b) slightly injured that have been unreported to the police for the last three years.

Thousands of casualties (estimates rounded to the nearest 10 thousand)

Year Injury severity Best estimate
of unreported
Lower estimate Upper estimate
2011-15 Serious 60 30 90
Slight 460 380 540
2010-14 Serious 70 40 100
Slight 480 390 550
2009-13 Serious 60 40 100
Slight 460 380 540


The unreported road casualties are based on questions asked in the National Travel Survey (NTS) which are based on a sample survey and are subject to uncertainty resulting from small sample sizes. The estimates are created from data collected from the NTS over five years to produce a robust statistic. All estimates are rounded to the nearest ten thousand to reflect the uncertainty.

As the total number of road accident casualties is subject to considerable uncertainty, the lower and upper estimates provided above indicate the range in which the precise number of unreported casualties is likely to fall.

All of the changes between the years are within the upper and lower estimate range. This indicates that the apparent changes are as a result of sampling error rather than a change in the number of casualties.

These figures are also available within table RAS54004.

2  Two further examples of Parliamentary Question answers where these inaccurate figures are used:





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