New ACPO Speed Limit Enforcement Guidelines Welcome
A generally sensible approach from ACPO but will local police chiefs and councils be listening?
New speed limit enforcement guidelines recently issued by ACPO 1
, the Association of Chief Police Officers, contain the following key statements on the police position on all speed limits:
- "Where limits are not clear (that is they don't feel/look like the limit or are on inappropriate roads), they will not be routinely enforced"
- "Unclear or even confusing limits (all limits, not just 20's) will undoubtably lead to mistaken offending and any aggressive enforcement risks a loss of public support for the action and more importantly the police service"
- "The desired outcome has to be speeds at the limit chosen so as to achieve safe roads for other and vulnerable users not high speeds and high enforcement"
- "Speeding problems identified in an area must have the engineering, site clarity and need re-assessed, not simply a call for more enforcement"
- "Enforcing against drivers who simply misread the road may not be appropriate".
The guidelines also reiterate the current recommendation of enforcement levels at a 10%+2mph threshold above the limit.
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries comments:
“In general the attitude of ACPO is commendable. The gist of these guidelines is that limits should suit the road and that police should use their discretion to enforce only where the limit is obvious to drivers and would be what they would expect from what they can see through the windscreen. Limits should not be set well below what drivers would expect to see and then be enforced to achieve high rates of offender punishment. Unfortunately many local authorities and police chiefs appear not to understand this simple concept, believing that just sticking up a sign and prosecuting thousands of safe drivers somehow improves safety. It does not, but it does of course make a lot of money for those selling enforcement equipment and training courses.”
“Whilst the enforcement guidelines are generally sensible, we are disappointed to see ACPO adopting the contradictory approach to their own advice by supporting setting of speed limits at the average speed of traffic. If they want appropriate speed limits without excessive prosecution of safe drivers then the answer is clearly to reintroduce setting of limits at the 85th percentile 2. Setting limits at the average speed inevitably results in the unjust criminalisation of the speed that a large proportion of drivers assume to be correct for what they see through their windscreen 3. It is a fundamentally wrong approach.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. ACPO Speed Enforcement Policy Guidelines 2011–2105 [pdf]
2. Speed Limits: their correct use, setting, and enforcement
3. Wikipedia — Comparison of mean, median, and mode.
Notes for Editors about the ABD
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