Sussex Police along with our ACPO colleagues do not support blanket 20mph speed limits. All speed limits should be realistic and appropriate, tailored to reflect the type of road they are deployed upon and therefore we support a hierarchical approach to speed limit setting in urban environments.
It is our view that in every case there must be a proven need for the lower speed limit, it must be clear and the motorist must have the ability to comply. The service has limited capacity and resilience and will assume that if correctly placed, speed limits will be self enforcing and that the highway authority will be responsible for ensuring it meets those aims. WSCC has a philosophy that speed limits should be self enforcing, it is unclear however, their position in relation to introducing engineering measures necessary to fulfill that philosophy.
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 includes engineering, visible interventions and landscaping standards that respect the needs of all road users and raise the driver’s awareness of their environment and the speed limit set.
Altering a limit with simply a sign without making the new limit clear to all drivers is likely to result in low levels of compliance. This may well leave vulnerable road users exposed to unnecessary higher speeds and the leave the police with a large-scale Crime and Disorder Act issue where there was none before.
National guidance to local authorities on installing adequately engineered 20mph speed limits and zones is defined and unambiguous. It does not support unclear or inappropriate limits, nor does it support an increased demand on police forces to carry out routine enforcement where there are insufficient interventions to make the limit obvious to visiting motorists.
The police position on all speed limits is:
- Appropriate speed limits are supported, so long as they look and feel like the limit giving visiting motorists who wish to conform the chance to do so;
- The desired outcome has to be speeds at the limit chosen so as to achieve safe roads for other and vulnerable road users – not high speeds and high levels of enforcement;
- Self-enforcing (with speed reducing features) not requiring large scale enforcement;
- Only introduce where average speeds are already close to the limit imposed (24mph in a proposed 20mph area);
- Speeding problems identified in an area must have the engineering, site clarity and need re-assessed, not simply a call for more enforcement and
- Enforcing against drivers who simply misread the road may not be appropriate.
Obviously there are some outcomes following the setting up of the 20mph speed limit with Chichester, a city because of its historical layout lends itself more to such a limit – it is early days, but I believe the high level of compliance expected by some, especially those within the 20’s Plenty group has perhaps not been realised and has generated some difficulties and mischievous reporting in local papers (Brighton and Hove and the Evening Argus not excluded).
Sussex Police made it very clear at the outset in relation to Chichester that there was a need for WSCC and community groups to engage and develop a robust education and communications strategy – I understand that is now being worked up with a package for other areas to adopt if 20’s were implemented.
I hope that helps and provides some clarity to you and members of the consultation committee.
Traffic Management West
Surrey & Sussex Police working together
Police Station, Ham Road, Shoreham By Sea, West Sussex, BN43 6DB