No plans to pursue drivers caught 1mph over speed limit, insists police chief

Police say they have no plans to pursue and prosecute drivers caught travelling 1mph over the speed limit
Police say they have no plans to pursue and prosecute drivers caught travelling 1mph over the speed limit
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A police chief who appeared to suggest drivers could be prosecuted for exceeding the limit by 1mph claims he was misunderstood.

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, of West Mercia Police, sparked an online backlash when he seemed to propose ending the 10 per cent 'buffer' over speed limits.

He has now sought to clarify his comments, made at a conference last month, assuring motorists there are no plans to pursue and prosecute those caught driving at 1mph over the limit.

Writing in a National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) blog, published today, he claimed the ensuing row had detracted from the point he had been trying to make.

"Comments I made last week have led to a perception that the police are going to be pursuing and prosecuting drivers just one mph over the speed limit. That is not the case and was never advocated - and I now need to clear up the misunderstanding," he wrote.

He said police were concerned about an increase in deaths and injuries on Britain's roads and when he was asked about the so-called 'buffer' zone he had suggested police should be clearer that the limit is there for a reason and you can be stopped and action can be taken against you if you exceed that speed.

He added: "The logical conclusion of that argument, and the way it has been widely reported, is that we’re going after people just one mph over the limit. I now want to be clearer on this point – our aim is not to be pursuing drivers one mph over the speed limit and putting them through the courts. This would not be proportionate or achievable.

"Police enforcement is always intelligence-led, proportionate and applied with common sense. The focus on the one mph issue has detracted from the real point I wanted to make - drivers shouldn’t just assume they’ve got a free pass to drive over the limit. The limit is the limit."

Existing guidance suggests police should only penalise drivers caught going 10 per cent plus 2mph over the limit - for example 35mph in a 30mph zone.

Many drivers had claimed doing away with this buffer, as Mr Bangham's initial comments were widely interpreted to be advocating, could increase the risk of accidents as motorists would be concentrating more on their speedometers than on the road ahead.

His reported comments from the conference even drew criticism from some other police leaders, one of whom accused the apparent proposal as being 'out of touch'.

Mr Bangham wrote in his blog that the priority for police would always be dealing with the most dangerous drivers.

But he claimed many drivers now 'routinely' exceed the speed limit and argued there should not be a 'comfort zone' above that limit where it is considered safe to drive.