ACPO clairfy their position on 20mph speed limits

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This is verbatim a letter that was sent to the APPCG co-chairs from the ACPO ‘Lead on Roads Policing’, Suzette Davenport, Chief Constable, Gloucestershire Constabulary


Julian Huppert MP and Ian Austin MP
All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group
House of Commons, London SW1A 1AA


Dear Mr Huppert and Mr Austin

Clarification of the ACPO position on 20 miles per hour speed limits

I write further to the recent All‐Party Parliamentary Cycling group evidence session on ‘Get Britain Cycling’. ACC Mark Milsom represented the ACPO roads policing portfolio to address the group’s questions from a policing perspective.

Following a very specific line of questioning on the subject, we believe the police service position on the issue 20 mph speed limits requires further clarification. For accuracy, we would be grateful if you would reflect this correspondence in written evidence for your eventual report.

We can clearly state that it is incorrect to say that police officers are not enforcing 20mph speed limits.

20mph zones are predominantly introduced in residential areas where road safety has been raised as an issue by those who live locally. The approach of neighbourhood policing teams in every community is built around ensuring that local crime and disorder issues and concerns are identified, so that a police force delivers an appropriate policing response. This applies to enforcement of 20mph zones as to any other area of policing.

Police and Crime Commissioners are now responsible for setting strategic policing priorities for each police force and in areas where 20mph zones are a local concern, may include enforcement within local policing plans.

In most cases, 20 mph limits will follow Department of Transport guidance and include ‘road calming’ features such as speed bumps or traffic islands designed to slow traffic. Wherever possible, we agree with the Department of Transport that 20mph zones should be ‘self‐enforcing’ through the use of such features. The guidance states:

“Successful 20 mph zones and 20 mph speed limits are generally self‐enforcing, i.e. the existing conditions of the road together with measures such as traffic calming or signing, publicity and information as part of the scheme, lead to a mean traffic speed compliant with the speed limit.

To achieve compliance there should be no expectation on the police to provide additional enforcement beyond their routine activity, unless this has been explicitly agreed.”

ACPO speed enforcement guidelines (attached to this letter) include thresholds for enforcement across all speed limits, intended to underpin a consistent policing approach. Within that framework local police forces will take a responsible and proportionate approach to enforcement of 20mph limits based on their assessment of risk to individuals, property and the seriousness of any breach. Where drivers are regularly and wilfully breaking the law we would expect that officers will enforce the limit and prosecute offenders.
I trust that this sets out our position clearly. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

Yours faithfully
Suzette Davenport
Chief Constable, Gloucestershire Constabulary

Gloucestershire Constabulary
Force Headquarters, No 1 Waterwells
Waterwells Drive, Quedgeley
Gloucester. GL2 2AN

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