Joining Forces for Safer Roads



New version 6/07/7/00





Securing a higher level of compliance with existing speed limits has the potential to deliver the following benefits:


q       Reduced casualties, in terms of both numbers and severity

q       Reduced demand upon the Health Service

q       Reduced conflict between motor vehicles and other road users

q       A calmer and more free-flowing traffic environment

q       Improved quality of life in local communities



Effective Speed Enforcement will contribute to the following Government Policies

q       Police Service Overarching Aims and Objectives

q       National Road Safety Strategy and Targets to 2010

q       'Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation' (White Paper 1999)

q       Community Safety Strategies (Crime & Disorder Act 1998)

q       Local Transport Plans (Integrated Transport Policy)

q       Local Government Act (Best Value 1998)

q       The Human Rights Act 1998



The Police Role

Strategic guidance on the role of the police in society is provided through the

Police Overarching Aims and Objectives


Statement of Purpose:††††††† 'To help secure a safe and just society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced'

Aims††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 'Promote safety and reduce disorderí

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 'Reduce crime and the fear of crime'

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 'Contribute to delivering justice in a way which secures and maintains public confidence in the rule of law'

Obectives (one of eleven)†††††† ĎContribute to improving road safety and the reduction of casualties'



ACPO's National Road Policing Strategy


This has been developed by ACPO following wide consultation, to help deliver the 'Overarching Aims and Objectives for the Police Service', and has the following Strategic Aim:




'To secure an environment where the individual can use the roads with confidence, free from death and injury, damage or fear'



Supported by the following Key Objectives:



q       Improved road user behaviour

q       Safer roads

q       Safer vehicles



Improving driver behaviour is a key area and the following three operational priorities for 2000/2001 have been identified as having the most potential for contributing to the improvement of road safety and the reduction of road casualties:



q       Speed

q       Drink Driving

q       Seat belt wearing





The following should be read in conjunction with the ACPO Prosecution Policy Guidelines on the use of the Fixed Penalty System


Speed Enforcement


The principles of Speed Enforcement


The enforcement of traffic law by the police should be guided by the principles of proportionality in applying the law and securing compliance; targeting of enforcement action; consistency of approach; and transparency about what enforcement action is undertaken, and why; and recognition that effective partnerships with other organisations are essential.





Proportionality means relating enforcement action to the risks.Those whom the law protects and those on whom it places duties expect that action taken by the police to achieve compliance (in this case speed limits) should be proportionate to the risks to individuals and property and to the seriousness of any breach.





Targeting means making sure that enforcement action is directed primarily at those whose behaviour poses the greatest risk (particularly to others), often at identifiable locations or in identifiable circumstances.Targeting needs to take full advantage of a wide range of information sources, including academic research, to develop a greater level of understanding of what the problems are and how to resolve them, so that enforcement action can be focused and prioritised.


Effective targeting will therefore ensure that road risks are objectively identified and prioritised for appropriate action; that suitable resources are deployed; and that pertinent monitoring and evaluation takes place so that costs and benefits can be properly assessed and future decision making enhanced.







Consistency of approach does not mean uniformity.It does mean taking a similar approach in similar circumstances to achieve similar ends.Police officers are faced with many variables; the decision as to what action to take is a matter of judgement, and they must exercise their discretion.Where Police Officers believe that an offence has been committed (in this case, that a motorist has driven at any speed over the relevant speed limit), in exercising their discretion as to the appropriate enforcement action, they must consider the nature and circumstances of the offence.Depending on those circumstances they may decide to issue a summons, issue a fixed penalty notice, caution, warn or take no action.For instance, it might be appropriate to issue a summons for exceeding a speed limit at relatively low speeds over the relevant limit on roads near schools at certain times of day or when there are adverse weather conditions, whereas a similar offence committed in the middle of the night might merit the issue of a fixed penalty notice.


Road users do expect consistency from the police nationally, and this feature has been identified as a benefit linked to the operation of speed cameras.Inconsistency in enforcement practice undermines public confidence and contributes to resentment.It is part of ACPO's role to ensure that consistency is achieved wherever possible.





Transparency means helping drivers to understand what is expected of them and why.It also means ensuring clarity about what the public can expect from the police.Raising the publicís understanding of the full implications of their actions (specifically including the human and financial costs) will assist in changing behaviour and ultimately attitudes.


The way in which ACPO tries to achieve transparency is by publishing guidance to chief constables to enable them, in turn, to offer operational advice and guidance to their officers.ACPO's guidance is placed in the public domain.



The Guidance


ACPO's guidance has been formulated having taken account of the need for proportionality (especially with the introduction of Human Rights legislation) and the need for targeting in order to maximise the potential of scarce police resources and make a substantial contribution to the multi-agency road death and injury reduction effort.


Driving at any speed over the limit is an offence.The differing speed limits are generally related, and proportionate, to the risks to all road users using that road.Where police officers consider that an offence has been committed i.e. that a motorist has driven at any speed over the relevant speed limit, they should consider whether it is appropriate to take enforcement action against the offender.


The Police Service now uses technology that enables it to prove that an offence has been committed as soon as a driver exceeds the relevant speed limit by a very small margin. Motorists will therefore be at risk of prosecution immediately they exceed any legal speed limit.


The guidance to police officers is that it is anticipated that, other than in the most exceptional circumstances, the issue of fixed penalty notices and summonses is likely to be the minimum appropriate enforcement action as soon as the following speeds have been reached:


Fixed Penalty


20 mph

25 mph

35 mph

30 mph

35 mph

50 mph

40 mph

46 mph

66 mph

50 mph

57 mph

76 mph

60 mph

68 mph

86 mph

70 mph

79 mph

96 mph


Fixed penalty of

1.         £60 (pending)

2.         Licence endorsed with 3 penalty points

Magisterial discretion (level 2) maximum of:

1.       £1000 fine

2.       Licence endorsed - range of penalty points available

3.       Disqualification

4.       Compulsory re-testing

This guidance does not and cannot replace the police officer's discretion and they may decide to issue a summons or a fixed penalty notice in respect of offences committed at speeds lower than those set out in the table.Moreover, in particular circumstances, driving at speeds lower than the legal limit may result in prosecution for other offences, for example dangerous driving or driving without due care and attention when the speed is inappropriate and inherently unsafe.


Effective Partnerships


Effective speed enforcement cannot be carried out by one agency acting alone.The Police Service actively seeks to develop close working relationships with others (e.g. the DETR and Agencies, highway authorities, magistrates courts, education authorities, road safety organisations etc.) in order to promote road safety and ensure that approaches to speed compliance which do not rely solely upon sanctions are fully exploited.


7 July 2000