Road Safety News

Islington becomes first borough to enforce 20mph limits

Tuesday 7th October 2014

Police enforcement of 20mph limits in Islington began last week (7 Oct), making Islington the first borough in London where motorists can be prosecuted for breaking the 20mph limit.

Last year Islington became the first London borough to introduce a 20mph limit on all roads, except for those managed by Transport for London.

Since then, the council and police have held a series of ‘stop and advise’ operations in which motorists driving above the 20mph limit have been pulled over and given a reminder to slow down. Now, after 24 such operations, enforcement has begun.

Councillor Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “We want Islington’s roads to be safer for everyone, and that's why we pioneered making Islington London’s first 20mph borough. Most motorists obey the speed limits, but those who don’t can now expect to be prosecuted and risk losing their licence.

“We’ve worked closely with the police over the past 12 months to target hot-spots where drivers frequently speed, and together we’ve stopped more than 900 motorists to remind them to keep within the limit.

“The time is now right to start enforcement action and I welcome the action by police.”

A report in the London Evening Standard said the move has been given a “mixed reception” by residents, most of whom called for a “common sense” approach with restrictions only imposed during daytime hours when traffic is heavier.

Talking to the Evening Standard, taxi driver Gary Ricketts said: “I think the speed limit should be 20mph only during the day and then at night it should go back to 30mph because at night driving down a main road at 20mph with no one around is a bit of pain. It’s actually hard to drive that slow, people will get annoyed and my customers will start moaning.”

Another resident, architect Alastair Gambles said: “I cycle through here every day and from a cyclists’ point of view it will make the roads safer, although the speed bumps are so severe anyway people can’t go fast.”

Statistician Phil Giles added: “Residential streets where kids are out playing should be maximum 20mph, even less, but on the busier roads 20mph will be way too low. If it’s really busy you can’t go faster than that anyway, but if the road is empty and you’re going along at 20mph it’s a waste of time. They should trust us to have common sense.”


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As someone who refused to tell the police who was driving his car at 47mph in a 30mph limit you seem to be rather inquisitive about a piece of paper attached to a telegraph pole. I wonder by what authority you make such inquiries?
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (13) | Disagree (3)

see also:

£90,000 cost in Winchester
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (3) | Disagree (10)

Apologies Rod, for clumsy wording implying that the police had said that breaking the 20mph limit was not illegal - it was the article itself, in the print version, that made that statement. I noted it in particular because it both surprised and puzzled me. Whether it was never stated in the online version or has been edited out I do not know.

You failed to respond to my other question - what authority do you have to fasten your signs to telegraph poles and other public property?
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (3) | Disagree (11)

Well NYC has gone further with its 25 mph limit in Manhattan.
Pete, Westminster

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

The NSAC diversionary scheme course for 20mph 'NSAC20' is already available but there is little interest from the police to go that route. The general feeling is a 20 is self enforcing, and many councils have failed to meet the required standards for the 20 zones, making enforcement impossible to uphold in a court of law.
Mike Hull

Agree (4) | Disagree (7)

Idris seems quite concerned about laws relating to street furniture and on whose authority they are being broken (if they are), but less concerned about what authority some motorists apparently have to disregard more important traffic laws.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (27) | Disagree (6)

I believe you are misquoting the report in the Hampshire Chronicle. The police did not say that "exceeding the speed limit was not illegal". The actual article may be seen at:

Clearly the article on Islington shows that police attitudes are changing and I suspect will change even more quickly once the 20mph NDORS course comes available.
Rod King 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (24) | Disagree (6)

Isn't it great that society is capable of adjusting its laws to meet the needs of its communities. And the DfT guidance encourages Traffic Authorities to listen to the needs of their communities and implement 20mph limits.

One other aspect you have failed to mention is that in civil litigation then culpability is recognised wherever a driver exceeds 25mph in a 20mph limit and becomes liable even if the other party is negligent. So I celebrate that those public spaces between buildings which we call streets are being shared in a more equitable manner by limiting the speed of motor vehicles to 20mph.

It's good to see the Met Police responding to those needs for better and safer streets.
Rod King 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (25) | Disagree (12)

Last week's Hampshire Chronicle quoted the police as saying that they do not and will not enforce 20mph limits, and stating without clarification that exceeding 20mph limits is not illegal. Any "enforcement" would be done by the vigilantee groups resulting in threatening letters being sent, but without any legal means of doing more than that.

It occurred to me the other day that there are laws about what can be attached to lamp and telegraph poles etc, though they do not apply to short-term election posters. Does 20's Plenty have any authority to attach their placards to public property?
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (10) | Disagree (25)

At the risk of appearing pedantic, doing 31-35mph in a '30' limit is not actually 'legal'.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (13) | Disagree (5)

So, to be clear, a couple of years ago, the prosecution threshold in Islington would have been 35 (limit+10%+2mph). Any speed below that would have been considered acceptable, legal and, by inference, safe. We now have the prospect of drivers at 24mph being deemed unacceptable, illegal and unsafe and risking prosecution and loss of their licence.

And "vox pop" trotting out believing it will be safer while the DfT acknowledge that there is "an evidence gap on the effectiveness of 20mph speed limits". Is this Islington or Barking?
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (15) | Disagree (29)

Where would we also be without the wisdom of the great British public. In particular the taxi driver who says "..its actually hard to drive that slow..". Yes - we've noticed.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (4)

A motorist with common sense.... is there such an animal?
bob craven Lancs

Agree (4) | Disagree (7)