20mph speed limits in urban areas 'usually advisory' police chief says as he admits most restrictions can't be enforced

17 March 2023, 09:44 | Updated: 17 March 2023, 10:13

20mph speed limits in urban areas 'usually advisory' says police chief who admits most restrictions can't be enforced
20mph speed limits in urban areas 'usually advisory' says police chief who admits most restrictions can't be enforced. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Danielle DeWolfe

A police chief has admitted the widespread use of 20mph restrictions in built-up areas can't be enforced, with those driving up to 30mph in the zones evading prosecution because the limit is "usually advisory".

Giles Orpen-Smellie, Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, made the comments at a Norfolk County Council meeting where he was pressed on the limit's recent introduction.

In response to a question on prosecutions posed by speed safety campaigners, Orpen-Smellie said: "It’s extremely difficult for police to prosecute... if it goes in front of magistrates they will throw it out."

It comes as Norfolk Constabulary revealed it does not issue tickets to drivers travelling at up to 30mph despite being in a 20mph zone.

A response that has shocked many, Rod King, director of campaign group 20’s Plenty For Us, was quick to dismiss the Tory PCC's comments, labelling them "absolute nonsense".

Giles Orpen-Smellie, Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, made the comments at a Norfolk County Council meeting where he was pressed on the limit's recent introduction.
Giles Orpen-Smellie, Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, made the comments at a Norfolk County Council meeting where he was pressed on the limit's recent introduction. Picture: LBC / Alamy

The commissioner's admission was made despite over a third of local authorities having rolled out the speed restriction zones in recent years.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk Constabulary told the MailOnline: "A zone can be introduced by a local authority without any permissions being sought.

"However, this can create a significant issue for enforcement.

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"If a zone is introduced without a traffic order (a legal document issued by the relevant highways authority) then the speed limit applicable will be 30mph."

The statement added that police action "may be appropriate if there is clear evidence of significant non-compliance or injury".

Recent years have seen the number of speed restrictions across the country skyrocket, with 20mph zones incresingly popular in built-up areas.
Recent years have seen the number of speed restrictions across the country skyrocket, with 20mph zones incresingly popular in built-up areas. Picture: LBC / Alamy

Recent years have seen the number of speed restrictions across the country skyrocket, with 20mph zones incresingly popular in built-up areas.

The 20mph limits were first introduced in 1990, when local authorities would have to apply for consent in implementing the zones from the Secretary of State.

In light of the comments made by the Conservative PCC, the National Police Chiefs’ Council added: "Enforcement is a matter for individual forces".

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