Police error meant ‘speeding’ motorists paid fines but never exceeded the limit
A police force has admitted it has wrongly fined ‘speeding’ motorists after a clerical error meant the speed limit was never officially lowered.
Avon and Somerset Police face having to cancel hundreds of tickets after a motorist successfully overturned his fine.
Chris Waites stepped in to help a friend who had been fined for breaching the 30mph speed limit on the A378 in Fivehead, Somerset.
He realised that the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), used to lower the speed limit from 40mph in 2015, had incorrectly referred to an adjoining road as Church Road. In fact, the road was unnamed on all local maps.
Therefore the speed limit was never legally lowered to 30mph – meaning hundreds or even thousands of motorists had been wrongly fined over the last three years.
Avon and Somerset Police has now cancelled all outstanding tickets, and is seeking legal advice on others.
Mr Waites said: “Avon and Somerset Constabulary is having to cancel hundreds of speeding tickets. And of course many people will already have been fined or got points wrongly after the enforcement of a 30mph limit on the A378 in Fivehead since 2015.
“The council used a non-existent road to reference the entire limit in the TRO. Because of this the limit has never legally been dropped and remains at 40mph.”
Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) are legal documents which the police or local authority must obtain before enforcing road restrictions or speed limit changes.
The 2015 order stated the new 30mph limit would be enforced: “From a point 119 metres west of the centre of its junction with Church Road for a distance of approximately 1485 metres in an easterly then nor easterly direction. From a point 60 metres south west of the centre of junction with the A378 Langport Road for a distance of approximately 60 metres in an south westerly.”
Speeding | The 10 per cent ‘rule’
The rule, actually guidance, from the Association of Chief Police Officers (2015), offers the following table which allows for some leniency when issuing speeding fines.
If, for example, the speed limit is 30mph, you won’t get a fine unless you are going 10% plus 2 mph faster than the limit. In this example, this would mean that you would have to be travelling at 35mph or faster in order to receive a speeding ticket.
Mr Waites said he spotted the mistake in five minutes after he offered to help a friend who was threatened with a £100 fine and three points for breaching the 30mph limit.
He added: “If I noticed it, then the council and police should have picked it up.”
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Constabulary said: “Police stopped enforcing the TRO on the A378 at Fivehead as soon as we were made aware of an issue and have cancelled all outstanding tickets.
“We are currently seeking expert advice on the issue of fines which have already been paid.”
A spokesman for Somerset County Council said it was “aware of an error with the TRO for the A378 at Fivehead” and that work was underway to amend it.