Politicians hit out at police for not enforcing 20mph speed limits

A 20mph limit area
A 20mph limit area
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Politicians have said there is ‘no point’ in 20mph speed limits if they are not enforced by police.

Hampshire county councillors say drivers should have the fear of prosecution over speeding in the zones.

However, Hampshire police says it does not ‘routinely enforce 20 mph speed limits as a matter of course’ due to ‘finite’ resources.

It also claims these limits are ‘largely self-enforcing’.

This comes after it was revealed that a trial of 20mph limits across Hampshire led to speeds increasing in some areas.

The pilot scheme, which began in 2014, involved installing signage in 14 locations across the county in a bid to improve safety.

But, four of these – Chilbolton, Dummer, Micheldever, and Stanmore – saw an increase in driver speeds.

Portsmouth switched to a 20mph limit for residential roads in 2007.

READ MORE: Debate rages on over 20mph speed limit

‘I am a great believer that there is no point in having limits if you do not enforce them,’ Purbrook councillor Gary Hughes told the authority’s economy and transport committee.

‘We (drivers) spend so much time looking at our speedometers that it is a distraction from driving in a straight manner.

‘The idea that we are going to do this, but we’re not going to enforce it, shows that there’s no point in doing it at all.’

Other councillors, including Winchester member Martin Tod, also questioned the lack of enforcement on these roads.

Nevertheless, superintendent Simon Dodds said: ‘Department of Transport guidance details that 20mph speed limits, as with all speed limits, should be set at a level where they are largely “self‐enforcing”.

‘Speed limits, including 20mph restrictions, are more frequently adhered to by motorists when the existing conditions and design of the road lead to mean traffic speeds being compliant with the proposed speed limit.’

He added: ‘Hampshire Constabulary will not routinely enforce 20mph speed limits as a matter of course.

‘With finite resources our enforcement of all traffic legislation is directed by a threat risk and harm approach. Where there is evidence to support that a road or given location presents a heightened risk this is where our officers will be deployed.

‘Hampshire Constabulary remains committed to making our roads safer and we support the County Council’s current casualty led policy for speed limits also applying to requests for 20mph restrictions.’

The study also found that only three of the pilot areas – Cherbourg Road, Wallington, and Winnall – recorded an average of below 20mph, despite decreases in speeds in 10 locations.

Council officers admitted that average speeds below the new limit were in areas where averages were already under 20mph.

Adrian Gray, head of highways at the council, said: ‘The decision to implement this pilot was part of our traffic management scheme, in the pursuit of casualty reduction.’

‘However, we have found that the impact on traffic speeds were largely minimal.’

He added: ‘With a county the size of Hampshire, the police cannot enforce everything.’

William Rimell, Local Democracy Reporting Service