The Ranty Highwayman)
Last week, I looked at the ridiculous assertion that protected cycle tracks in street renewal schemes would have everyone cycling at 25mph. This week, I’m going to have a ponder around the comments made by a police chief on why we should crack down on speeding drivers.
First, an admission. The early nineties was when I both obtained a driving licence and was done for speeding. 4 points, a hefty fine and higher insurance was a bit of an eye opener. As a professional engineer, I have also learned a little bit since then and so my opinions have been tempered which will immediately put me at odds with those who objected to the words of the police chief.
First, we have the chief constable of West Mercia, Anthony Bangham who is the lead for the National Police Chiefs Council on road policing. He made comments at the Police Federation’s Roads Policing Conference which took place this week, although it seems to be quite difficult to work out what he actually said such is the spin from the media and others!
The Guardian reported Bangham as saying;
“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.”
“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 apparently called for ministerial support for zero tolerance on speeding saying;
“I would like to see a more obvious, explicit commitment to this across government,”
What happened then, it seems, is the usual suspects waded in to condemn Bangham by suggesting he was demanding that drivers who are caught just 1mph over the speed limit should be punished. The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) reported this quote from Bangham;
“As an example, anything from 31mph onwards is over the speed limit and the options for a police response – a speed awareness course, fixed penalty notice or attendance at court – are discretionary based on the circumstances. My message to drivers is – don’t assume you have a free pass if you’re over the limit.”
So yes, 31mph where the speed limit is 30mph means that a driver would be exceeding the speed limit by 1mph and so is an offence and this might be the thing which got the frothers going.
The Guardian reported Bangham’s reaction to this as;
“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.”
As I have said, it is hard to piece together exactly what was said, but the general press were certainly not objective with many going for the 1mph spin such as the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and The Sun. The Greater Manchester Police Federation seems to have tagged onto the 1mph discussion with their chair, Ian Hanson, saying;
“Whilst any sensible person would support the principle of trying to make our roads safer, I think the comments by Chief Constable Anthony Bangham demonstrate a woeful lack of understanding of the sensitivities around speed enforcement and the relationship between the motoring public and the police.”
The story has also been picked up by the trade press with the website, Car Buzz, having a particularly outraged headline;
“Insane UK Police Chief Wants 1 MPH Over Speed Limit to Be a Crime”
The article continues;
“Getting a ticket for speeding has become so commonplace that it’s more of a tax on driving than an actual crime. Even The Grand Tour’s James May (a.k.a. Captain Slow) has been caught speeding. Strictly obeying speed limits is already tedious, but Chief Constable of West Mercia Anthony Bangham wants to make it even worse. AutoExpress reports Britain’s police force wants to make radical changes to guidelines that would punish motorists who are traveling just 1 mph over the speed limit. We have just one thing to ask: are you out of your mind?”