Chief constable argues stricter enforcement of speed limits would make Britain’s roads safer
Matthew WeaverWed 31 Jan 2018 09.24 GMT
Drivers should be punished for speeding even if they only go 3mph over the limit, Britain’s roads policing chief has said.
Anthony Bangham, the chief constable of West Mercia and the lead for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) on road policing, called on police forces to end the practice of only prosecuting drivers who break the speed limit by more than 10%.
“The law is there for a reason … we must enforce the law,” he told the Police Federation’s roads policing conference in Hinckley, Leicestershire.
“I do not want the public to be surprised, I want them to be embarrassed when they get caught,” he said. “They need to understand the law is set at the limit for a reason. They should not come whingeing to us about getting caught. If booked at 35 or 34 or 33 [in a 30mph zone] that cannot be unfair because they are breaking the law.”
Bangham argued that a stricter enforcement of speed limits would make roads safer.
The Police Federation quoted him saying: “On average five people are killed on our roads every day. Our role is to help make our roads safer and we will seek compliance with the law to help prevent the tragedies that happen too often on our roads.”
He called for ministerial backing for a zero tolerance approach to speeding. “I would like to see a more obvious, explicit commitment to this across government,” he is reported to have told the conference.
The NPCC said Bangham was accurately quoted, but it pointed out that he did not call punishment for going 1mph over the speed limit, as the Mail claimed.
In a statement on Wednesday Bangham pointed out that his remarks were made in a debate about how to make roads safer. “No decisions were taken but we did consider options for how to reduce speeding,” he said.
And he rowed back on any suggestion that West Mercia would be adopting a zero tolerance approach to speeding. He said: “We will always ensure our activity is intelligence led and therefore on our highest harm routes, if we know they are dangerous, then we will consider how we best enforce those speed limits.”
The Department for Transport declined to comment. “It is a matter for police,” a spokeswoman said.
Guidance suggests police forces should only issue penalties for drivers caught at 10% plus 2mph over the limit – 35mph in a 30mph zone, for example.
Drivers’ groups dismissed Bangham’s proposal as a scheme to raise more cash in driving fines.
Howard Cox, the founder of the Fair Fuel campaign, tweeted:
Howard Cox (@HowardCCox)
This is purely a cash raising exercise and drivers are easy targets. Chief Constable Anthony Bangham should focus on real criminals not those doing 31 in a 30mph zone. Stop persecuting hard working people going about their necessary daily lives. @JamesSalmon79 @FairFuelUK pic.twitter.com/pFVFJ7s5W1
The president of the AA, Edmund King, said: “Surely it is better to educate motorists rather than just slap a fine on them. The last thing we want is drivers glued to speedometer 100% of time.”
The Conservative MP Sir Greg Knight warned against an “overly aggressive policy against drivers”. He told the Mail: “It will make criminals of motorists who are basically good drivers trying to obey the speed limit, while keeping an eye on the road.”
A total of 1,710 people were killed on the roads in the year up to June 2017, according to the latest statistics.