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Police won’t enforce 20mph safety zones

On 2nd December, Suffolk County Council passed opposition Green, Lib Dem, Independent (GLI) group motion recognising changes to the Highway Code, giving clarity that 20mph limits should not be exceeded. The motion was passed unanimously and included the following stipulation:

“This Council will write to the PCC and ask for confirmation that the Suffolk Constabulary is prepared to increase and prioritise enforcement activities across all speed limits (including 20mph) where there is clear evidence of significant non-compliance or an injury collision history, and ensure that all officers act in line with this policy.”

Upon receiving the Council’s letter, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Tim Passmore, stated that it continues to be the Constabulary’s policy to not enforce 20mph limits – stating this is in accordance with national Police Chief Council policy.

Back in 2013, a ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry was seriously concerned to learn that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) advised police forces to not enforce 20mph speed limits. Subsequently, the ACPO stated the following guidance:

“…it is for local police forces to apply a proportionate approach to the enforcement of 20mph limits based on risk to individuals, property, and the seriousness of any breach. Where drivers are exceeding the speed limit through wilful offending, we would expect that officers will enforce the limit and prosecute offenders.”

While Suffolk’s PCC, Tim Passmore, stated Suffolk Police will enforce offences such as dangerous or careless driving in 20mph limits, he fails to mention ‘wilful offending’, which is stated in the guidance above – which would in effect result in a greater enforcement of 20mph zones.

This is despite the fact that the County Council has approved several 20mph schemes in towns and villages across the county, and that other police forces such as Essex Police, Kent Police and the Metropolitan Police are taking a pro-active role in working with their local highways authorities to enforce 20mph limits. Essex Police are even running a National Speed Awareness Course, in partnership with Essex County Council, for people in breach of 20mph limits.

Suffolk GLI Leader, Cllr Andrew Stringer, said:

“It is quite remarkable that Suffolk Police flatly refuse to uphold the law. Residents living in 20mph limits such as Occold who I represent will feel disappointed that our Police Commissioner is so out of step with upholding community safety and the Highway Code”

“I am shocked that it comes across that the commissioner feels he can cherry pick which laws to take seriously or not.”

Councillor Andy Mellen added:

"I represent Elmswell and Woolpit who are both seeking to have 20mph speed limits in the centre of the villages, to improve road safety for residents.  It will be pointless if we spend time and funding to get these limits approved, only to find that the police are unwilling to enforce them."

Suffolk GLI Deputy Leader, Cllr Robert Lindsay, said:

"We all want to make our communities safer. No one is asking Suffolk Police to make more of an effort to enforce 20mph than they do 30mph schemes. But whatever the speed limit is, they have a duty to enforce it particularly where there are persistent offences. Communities have to go through big hoops to get the county to grant new 20mph schemes. They do not happen without community or county council backing. This ought to be enough for the police, who are here to serve communities."

Cllr Caroline Page, who was the original proposer our Group’s motion, said:

“The new Highway Code has placed vulnerable road users at the top of its hierarchy to ensure they are safer on our roads. Yet for some, the concept of reducing speed to 20mph is somehow presented as an eccentric and impractical dream. The law expects Suffolk children to walk up to three miles to get to their school gates, and so we need enforced 20mph limits across communities for our children to be safe walking back and forth.”


To find Suffolk GLI Motion, 2nd December, click here:

ACPO Guidance:

Kent Police confirming the enforcement of 20mph:

Get Britain Cycling Inquiry: