We do allow 10% plus 2mph for speeding motorists: PSNI
Officers have to justify going outside instruction, says top cop
The PSNI has said its officers are instructed to apply a 10% plus 2mph threshold when considering speeding drivers and they would be "lambasted" for handing out tickets to those doing a mile or two over the speed limit.
A senior officer did say that drivers marginally over the speed limit and within that threshold could be caught, but that the officer responsible would have to justify the reasoning.
On Monday it was revealed that 124 drivers in Northern Ireland have 12 or more points on their licence and are still able to use their cars. One driver has 20 points but has not had their licence taken away.
It means effectively police are not stopping drivers until they reach at least 35mph in 30 zones. To stop them at a lower speed, but over the limit, the officer would have to have a proper reason and be able to provide evidence, the PSNI has said.
Police said it would be impractical to catch people speeding at 31 or 32mph and they would be "lambasted" for doing so.
"That is guidance," Inspector Rosie Leech of the PSNI's Roads Policing Unit told the BBC Stephen Nolan show. "Nothing takes away from the absolute discretion of a police officer. When you see a sign saying 30, 40, 50 mile per hour - that is the speed limit.
"As soon as you breach that, you are breaking the law.
"But it is not practical and it is not fair to prosecute people at 32mph and that is why guidance was introduced. That provides a degree of consistency across all the forces in the UK."
She added: "But that does not take away from the absolute discretion of a police officer. So that if a police officer was on duty outside a school and if he saw somebody zipping through at 34mph and thought it was too quick. He is within his rights to issue a penalty notice. 30 is the limit."
She continued: "The speed limit says it is the maximum you should be travelling with regard to the circumstances. The guidance provides consistency and it is only in very rare cases an officer would act outside that and they will always have to justify and have evidence as to why they would operate outside the guidance and I would be confident that would be broadly adhered to."
"We issue instructions to officers .... we do not enforce below 10% plus two miles per hour. That is the broad guidance [and if officers] want to go below this they have to provide evidence of why they did."
The PSNI told the Belfast Telegraph that speed enforcement equipment is operated and tested with a small margin of error however the tolerance for error is always set in the favour of the motorist.
The NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council ) sets a national speed enforcement threshold, currently 10% plus 2mph of the set speed limit on the particular route. Speed enforcement equipment includes speed camera vans and fixed cameras as well as officers using equipment at the side of the road.
Inspector Leech added: "The fundamental premise is that a speed limit should not be seen as a target speed to attain. Rather it signifies the maximum speed that applies to the road.
"Inattention, speeding, or more accurately, excessive speed for the conditions and drink or drug driving, are consistently the principal causes of the most serious road traffic collisions in which people are killed or seriously injured. All I ask is that drivers slow down, do not drive after drinking or taking drugs, wear a seatbelt, drive with greater care and attention and don’t use mobile phones while driving."