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Police too slow to enforce 20mph zones?

Councillor calls for action on speed limits, warning that motorists will think new rules ‘don’t matter’

16 November, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Green councillor Caroline Russell standing by a 20mph speed limit sign at Highbury Corner

ISLINGTON’S sole opp­osition councillor has called on the police to better enforce the 20mph speed limit for cars to prevent deadly accidents.

Green councillor Caroline Russell said there is “not enough enforcement” of the limit which came into force across the borough in 2012.

The council was hailed as the first local authority to introduce the measure.

But a Freedom of Information request submitted earlier this year revealed that there were just four speed cameras in Islington used by the Met for penalising speeding drivers on 20mph roads.

Cllr Russell, who is also a member of the transport committee at City Hall where she is a London Assembly Member, said: “If you don’t have enough enforcement, people will start to think speeding doesn’t matter. The police have had these terrible cuts and we shouldn’t be having to choose between policing knife crime and road crime. They all harm people.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced in September that 122 officers would be moving to the Violent Crime Taskforce for three months from the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command to deal with escalating knife crime in the capital.

At a recent Assembly meeting, Cllr Russell grilled Met Commissioner Cressida Dick over how a planned 20mph limit on roads managed by Transport for London (TfL) – expected to be rolled out by 2024 – will be enforced.

Cllr Russell asked if the Met would be “committing” more police officers to enforce the limits throughout the capital or whether they would rely on speed cameras.

Ms Dick answered “I just don’t know” and said she would follow up with answers later.

Cllr Russell said: “It was worrying the Commissioner didn’t know how the Mayor’s new 20mph would be enforced on our main roads. Obviously she’s not going to know all the detail but you’d expect her to have a plan. It’s a priority.”

David Harrison, from Islington Living Streets, which campaigns for better pedestrian access, said: “While 20mph zones have a role, they have to be enforced. The police and courts must make road traffic enforcement a higher priority. More has to be done.”

Islington’s environment chief, Councillor Claudia Webbe, said: “We are committed to pioneering action to make our roads safer. At a time of big ongoing government cuts to police budgets, police face many demands for its resources but it is important 20mph enforcement continues, to help keep our roads safer.”

She added: “It is only a matter of time before enforcement of 20mph, which has been pioneered in Islington, is rolled out London-wide.”

A spokesman for the Met said: “Enforcement also needs to be balanced against other effective speed reduction and enforcement alternatives which are available, such as the use of speed ramps and speed cameras, that are the preserve of Transport for London and local authorities who have a statutory responsibility for road safety.”

He added: “Given the finite amount of police resources we need to ensure that officers are effectively deployed in those areas where speeding and fatalities and serious-injury accidents are most prevalent.”

A TfL spokeswoman said they own and maintain 25 safety cameras on roads that have a 20mph limit in Islington, adding: “Successful 20mph speed limits are generally self-enforcing.”

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