Fines for Speeding Rising Rapidly

The Times have published an article headlined “Police veering wildly on 20 mph limit” which covers the variation in speed enforcement across the country. In London fines have been rising rapidly as the Metropolitan Police have doubled patrols in 20 mph zones and have a target to enforce against one million drivers. But in other parts of the country the number of 20 mph speeding offences in minimal.

London taxi drivers, known to be some of the safest drivers on the roads, have been badly hit particularly after the previous excess tolerance was reduced by 1 mph. The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said they had been inundated with requests for legal assistance from drivers with previously clean licences, given penalty points for breaching a 20 mph limit.

Lilli Matson, who oversees the “Vision Zero” strategy for Transport for London (TfL), is quoted in the Times article as saying “the fines went to the Treasury and no profits were taken from speed awareness courses”. This is grossly misleading. Police forces generate surpluses from such courses which they spend on all sorts of things including more cameras. See our Ampow campaign for more evidence on this at:

Comment: Having a target for offences identified and prosecuted is wrong. It incentivises the police to find offences that may have no relevance to road safety while there is no evidence that taking a speed awareness course improves a driver’s safety. It’s just another perverse attack on motorists, particularly in London pursued by TfL, where 20 mph limits are now being installed on main roads. See link below on how Vision Zero is failing to achieve any improvement in road casualty statistics mainly because there is an irrational belief that cutting traffic speed will help.

Vision Zero failing:

Times article:

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Londoners May Face £100 For Engine Idling and Decriminalisation of Speeding Offences

London Boroughs may gain powers to fine motorists £100 who leave their engines running under a Bill introduced in the House of Lords. That’s up from the maximum £20 at present. In addition those who run diesel generators when air pollution is high may be banned – Extinction Rebellion please note as they ran a portable generator recently to support a demonstration.

The installation of new ‘combustion plant’ machinery, which includes gas boilers, solid fuel boilers, combined heat cooling and power plant, and stationery generators would only be permitted if the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emitted by the plant did not exceed a limit set by the Secretary of State.

These measures are aimed at overcoming the defects in the current Clean Air Act that are ineffective in controlling some pollution when non-transport related emissions are likely to become the majority very soon. Note that the Mayor of London is also looking for more powers in this area but it would surely be better if such powers were given to the boroughs rather than the Mayor.

Comment: these measures are not unreasonable although the impact on air pollution of engine idling is probably minimal even though it causes a lot of annoyance to residents when people park outside their homes and do it. But enforcement is difficult so little practical impact may be the result. See for more details. There is also no mention of wood-burning stoves which are one of the biggest problems at present.

The aforementioned Bill is being introduced in the House of Lords as a private members Bill so progress is not guaranteed. Another Bill being introduced in that way is one to decriminalise speeding offences. That should surely be opposed as it would lead to an even greater number of fines for speeding with the sole motivation of extracting more money from motorists. That is what happened when parking offences were “decriminalised” so that Local Authorities could enforce them. See   for more information


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20 Mph Enforcement in Islington

Islington now has a 20 m.p.h. limit on all roads under its control.  This now includes all main roads (formerly it was just residential ones) but excluding Tfl controlled ones like the A1 Holloway Road.  This is perceived by most residents to be nothing more than anti-car gesture politics on the part of Islington council.

This borough-wide restriction has now been in force for about a year or so.  The police have said it is an unnaturally slow speed on main roads and they have not got the time or resources to enforce it.  According to one local resident, on the main roads it is widely disregarded, not just by private motorists, but by buses, police cars not on response calls, council vehicles etc.  However, the police have recently been pushed into giving this Islington council policy some teeth, namely by the one Green councillor.

They are now setting up the odd speed trap with hand-held radar guns. One person was caught doing 27 m.p.h. on her way into work, incurring a £100 fine and three points on her licence.  This was on a bus route, and it’s worth noting that the speed trap was set up near a bus stop, so speeding buses would be slowing down on its approach and the police would therefore not have to pull them in.

Comment: It is often claimed by the advocates of wide-area 20 mph schemes that it will have little practical impact on residents and the police would be unlikely to enforce an unreasonable limit, partly because the technology has not been certified to do so and partly because they do not have the resources. The experience in Islington just shows that this is not the case. If a 20-mph limit is introduced you will in due course be forced to adhere to it, whether it is reasonable for the road conditions or not.

Roger Lawson

More speed cameras, and more fines

The Daily Telegraph ran a front page article on 27th December in which this writer was quoted. The article reported on the increase in the number of speeding fines issued by the courts in England and Wales in 2013 (the latest year for which figures are available). There were particularly sharp rises in areas such as Essex (up 44%) and Avon/Somerset (up 34%). These fines go to the Treasury and £45 million was generated as a result, but those figures do not include those who pay a fixed penalty notice or accept an education course (which they also have to pay for of course).

What are the reasons for the increases?  It seems very unlikely that it arises from more drivers exceeding the speed limit on the ever more congested roads. The main causes are probably the switch from old fashioned Gatso type devices with film cameras to digital cameras which never run out of film and where the processing can be automated, plus the increased use of speed awareness education courses. The police get a kick-back from the course operators and hence have a financial interest in generating more potential prosecutions. We have reported in our past newsletters on this perversion of justice where the police are financially motivated to waive prosecutions, but the Government and senior police officers see nothing wrong in this morally dubious practice. If this happened with any other “crime” the police concerned would be prosecuted.

In addition the number of active speed cameras has been increasing with rising numbers of average speed cameras. For example, London is committed to putting them on many of the main arterial routes into the centre of London to replicate those already on the A13.

Note that there are proposals afoot to increase the levels of fines imposed by magistrates courts so the level of fines collected by the Treasury may triple. For example the maximum fine for speeding on a motorway may rise to £10,000.

In London the justification for installing more average speed cameras (in a report dated 17 October 2013) was that “speed related collisions are a serious problem on London’s roads and account for 46 percent of all KSIs in London over the last three years”. This is a truly astonishing claim and cannot be reconciled to the national figures reported by the DfT which are much lower (only 25% of fatal collisions have a speed related factor and not necessarily where speed exceeded the posted speed limit). They also claim KSIs are reduced by 57% where cameras are installed which ignores all the other factors that have reduced accidents in recent years, and the impact of regression to the mean. Indeed it’s worth pointing out that when the City of London were arguing for their new 20-mph speed limit they said that “speed is not recorded as a factor for most of the collisions within the City…..”.

One has to conclude if one has examined the evidence in detail that any benefit from speed cameras is dubious which is why I said to the Telegraph reporter that “It is in the Government’s interests to encourage the issuing of fines; they are effectively a cash cow”. This is not about justice or accident prevention. It’s about those with little real understanding of road safety wishing to inhibit and control road users as part of a wider agenda. In terms of cost/benefit there are lots more effective ways to improve road safety than speed cameras. There is more information on these topics on our web site at

Roger Lawson 1/1/2015