Cherwell District Council: 20mph zones will not change police approach to speeding

Chief Constable John Campbell suggested levels of speed limit enforcement by Thames Valley Police would be unchanged by the rollout of 20 miles per hour (mph) zones in Oxfordshire.

Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 6:21 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 6:24 pm

Oxfordshire County Council’s 20mph Policy and New Approach proposes to reduce limits in approximately 85 per cent of areas currently set at 30mph on the back of “huge local interest and desire” from residents.

The counter argument is that reduced limits will prove pointless if they are not widely enforced but advocates hope it will “become socially unacceptable” to break 20mph limits over time.

Cllr Bryn Williams, Cherwell District’s Convserative member for Deddington, said the county’s initiative was welcome but that parishes “are concerned by reports” that police cannot allocate resources to enforcement and asked for clarification to address the “confusion and hesitation” amongst those deciding whether to get their areas involved.

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Cherwell District Council: 20mph zones will not change police approach to speeding

Chief Constable Campbell said: “Sometimes I think the message can get a bit confused from Thames Valley Police. Ultimately, if that is the speed limit then we will enforce it like we would for 30, 40 or 50 miles per hour.

“What I cannot guarantee, and this is often the question that gets posed, is having an officer standing on that corner if you as a council decide you are going to have a 20 mph limit. Then again, I cannot do that for 30 mph limits.

“What we rely upon - and this is where good traffic management is really important - is that the general approach through the Department for Transport and all agencies tries to make sure the environment reduces the speed rather than requiring physical enforcement.

“We are there to support whatever you as local councillors want to do in terms of speed enforcement. Clearly we would allocate resources if we saw increases in dangerous behaviour or road traffic accidents but in the same way that we have 30 and 40 mph limits, the question is whether we enforce it.

“The answer is of course we will if we are there or we have a particular issue emerging in an area but I cannot guarantee having a police officer on every 20mph limit. That is the challenge.

“We are very happy to support whatever is required but it is within that context of what is reasonable given all of the challenges we have.”

Superintendent Emma Garside, Thames Valley Police’s commander for the Cherwell and West Oxfordshire area, added that enforcement was only one tool to tackle the problem with community speed watch schemes set to be rolled out more widely.

“A really nice example outside Glory Farm School, Bicester, is our mini police,” she said.

“They are nine-to-11-year-old school children who are doing some work with us in the new year around a campaign about speeding outside the school.

“The child’s voice in educating parents or people driving within the vicinity of the school, there is evidence to say that has an impact so there are things going on aside from just standing on the side of a road with a speed gun.”