Devon & Cornwall Police – 20 mph enforcement protocol

As a follow-up to my blog #Cowick20 – Speeding in Parkway and Broadway, I now post this from January 2014.

Devon & Cornwall Police – 20 mph enforcement protocol

Devon and Cornwall Police work in close partnership with communities and local authorities to ensure that where we live and work remains a safe place.  It is important to ensure that vehicle speeds in our communities are reasonably low as that contributes towards to a safer environment.

Many residential areas and roads around schools, where there tends to be more pedestrians, have 20mph speed limits and zones to ensure vehicles travel slower.  Ensuring vehicle speeds remain within these lower limits can be achieved through a variety of measures including educating drivers, engineering roads (for example vehicle priority measures) or speed enforcement.

Speed enforcement in 20mph limits/zones is not a routine police activity.  Vehicle speeds in these limits and zones are most effectively managed through self-enforcing schemes employing physical engineering.  These will have a permanent and lasting effect on speeds, unlike enforcement.

Enforcement action in 20mph limits/zones, where speed detection devices are used, is done so on a case by case basis to address specific intelligence led requirements.  Enforcement is wide ranging and can include the deployment of speed indicator devices or high visibility local patrols.

All appropriate speed limits are supported where there is a proven need and where the speed limit is justified and clear; with reasonable expectation that motorists will naturally comply.  The objective is to reach acceptable levels of habitual compliance by motorists within 20mph limits/zones and not the routine prosecution of speed offenders.

Enforcement cannot be the sole arbiter of compliance with 20mph limits/zones and Devon and Cornwall police are currently working with all local authorities to address compliance issues across the force.

#Cowick20 – Speeding in Parkway and Broadway

The Cowick Labour team have been out and about speaking to residensts in Parkway and Broadway this week.

And among the usual mixture of comments and issues there was one topic that was being mentioned above all others- SPEEDING.

Now this is interesting.

The road network of Cowick Hill, Parkway, Broadway and all associated streets off has one entrance – the only way in is from Cowick Lane.

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The entrance from Cowick Lane has a gateway sign indicating that the area is a 20 mph zone:


With no opportunity to use this area as a “rat run”, the speeding vehicles are being driven either by occasional visitors and tradespeople or those that live here.

When I point this out to residents, they then ask why nothing is done about it. And that’s when the answer gets tricky.

I know that the 20 mph zone here, and those elsewhere in Cowick and across Exeter are now legally compliant and they can be enforced.

So why aren’t they being enforced?

According to Rob King’s 20 mph Guru blog, for a 20mph limit to be enforceable there are 4 requirements:

1. A relevant Traffic Regulation Order

There are no regulations regarding how to set a local speed limit. However, the Dept for Transport does provide guidance inDfT Circular 01/2013 Speeding Local Speed Limits issued in January 2013

All speed limits, other than those on restricted roads, should be made by order under Section 84 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Any speed limits below 30 mph, other than 20 mph limits or 20 mph zones, require individual consent from the Secretary of State. Unless an order has been made and the road is signed to the contrary, a 30 mph speed limit applies where there is a system of street lighting furnished by means of lamps placed not more than 200 yards apart.

Over the years Devon County Council (as the Traffic Authority) made a series of Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) to set the speed limit at 20mph in a number of wards. In 2014, they consolidated all these into one TRO, Devon County Council (Various Roads, Exeter) (20mph Zones & Limits) Order 2014.

As a result of this, all residential street in Cowick (apart form Orchard Gardens) are in one of two 20 mph zones, leaving Cowick Lane, Dunsford Road and Buddle Lane (oh, annd annoyingly Orchard Gardens!) with a 30 mph limit.

2. Appropriate signing

In order that drivers are aware of the changed speed limit then the appropriate signage must be provided. These are regulations and must be adhered to. The regulations are slightly different for 20mph zones and limits but both must include the appropriate boundary signs where speed limits change and any point in the limit must be no further than 50m from a repeater sign, roundel or physical calming device.

For a long time, DCC misunderstood the last point about “any point must be no further than 50m from a repeater sign, or roundel” as they thought that just the presence of a physical calming device within the zone made it compliant.

However, I thought differently and campaigned for DCC to put in place the appropriate signage.

In September 2013, I was told that the Broadway 20 mph zone had the correct signage – but I disagreed!

£100k later (funded by revenue from Exeter on-street parking charges) , I am convinced DCC have put the correct signage in place across Exeter.

3. Length of road, sighting, equipment

In order for the police to enforce a limit then they require a clear distance for them to observe drivers and for drivers to see them. This may  make certain sites less suitable for speed detection. Different measurement equipment are available. Whilst in the past some “radar” based speed detectors were not approved for use below 30mph, most forces have “laser” type devices that are fully approved for use at 20mph.

Since Broadway, Parkway, and most of the length of Cowick Hill are long and straight I can’t see this this being a problem!

So that leaves us with…

4. A Police Force that is willing to enforce

This may seem obvious, and whilst police are becoming far more supportive of 20mph limits and their enforcement, it is clear that in some forces there is a reluctance to enforce.

Many police forces think that 20 mph zones should be self-enforcing, with physical calming measures, which is in clear contradiction to the actual regulations set out by the Department for Transport.

In May 2013 the Association of Chief Police Officers updated the speed enforcement policy guidelines contained within Joining Forces for Safer Roads 2011-2015.where they re-iterated the fact that 20mph speed limits are enforceable and where the limit is clearly marked (ie meeting signage regulations) then any offenders may be prosecuted.

The guidelines state:

“Speed limits are only one element of speed management and local speed limits should not be set in isolation. They should be part of a package of other measures to manage speed which include engineering, visible interventions and landscaping standards that respect the needs of all road users and raise the driver’s awareness of their environment, together with education, driver information, training and publicity”.

So are Devon & Cornwall willing to enforce? And with diminishing roll numbers, are they able to enforce?

The website of the Office of the Devon & Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner has a new release on Tony Hogg’s response to enforcement of 20 mph speed limits.

This topic  was also the basis of a question asked by a member of the public at the Devon & Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner’s Performance and Accountability Board held on held on 24/09/2014.

Unfortunately the website of the PCC does not have a link to the minutes of that meeting…but there is a link to the webcast where the Chief Constable, Shaun Sawyer, answers this question of 20 mph zones.

The reply included the following quotes:
“20 mph limits have been developed by the Department for Transport and local authorities…the enforcement can fall to the police but my position is should it fall to the police except in exceptional circumstances?”

“We would rather see the public educate themselves…it is the responsibility for us all to obey the speed limit”

“We will conduct enforcement and prosecution as a final resort”

The trouble with that response is that it doesn’t really address the issue of speeding in Broadway, Parkway and elswhere, does it?

Perhaps I should send Shaun Sawyer, Tony Hogg and DCC a link to this  briefing note from January 2013 on Raising Compliance and the Role of Enforcement issued by the campaign body, 20’s Plenty For Us, which says multi-agency collaboration and social marketing to change behaviour. are as crucial as traffic engineering.

I leave with two quotes from that briefing:

The desired outcome is that drivers voluntarily slow down and respect a maximum of 20mph. Crucially, good 20mph compliance needs a sustained, multi-agency marketing campaign.

Integral is the requirement for the Police to play their role in creating the legal background. Occasional high profile warnings or fixed penalties will help. This need not divert resources from other police responsibilities.