After attempting unsuccessfully to get information during the Spring about the number of fines made since the council put a 20 mph speed limit on the streets of Westminster, l come to realise the legalities of it all today. I was just trying to see how the 20 mph enforcement was going in the City. This was after the last administration in the Council put in place speeding limits of 20 mph on the council roads in the borough hoping to reduce the rates of causalities and fatalities on the streets of Central London.
In order to successfully prosecute speeding drivers or where the registered keeper of the vehicle withholds information on the driver, Local Authorities need to have authorisation from the Police to act as “Public Prosecutor” as well as having the appropriate internal processes.
This will need to come from the Criminal Justice Act 2003 Section 29 which sets out the procedures as follows. Under the first point under Section 29, gives a public prosecutor the means to institute criminal proceedings against a person by issuing a document that is a “written charge” which charges the person with an offence. While in fifth point in Section 29, defines a public prosecutor as the police force or a person authorised by a police force to institute criminal proceedings.
This while at the same time the Local Government Act 1972 gives Local Authorities powers to prosecute or defend legal proceedings as “private prosecutor” This power being granted to promote the interests of the Local Authority’s residents provided that appropriate authorisation is recorded.
And of course, where further proof is required, such as speed camera records, vehicle registration details or driver identification, the police will need to authorise under Section 20 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 for speeding and Section 172 (2) on the Road Traffic Act about driver identity.
So the legalisation provides the scope for Local Authorities to institute criminal proceedings for offences such as speeding. As well as bringing private prosecutions, where they wish to protect the interests of their residents, Local Authorities can also act as a “Public Prosecutor’, if the authorised by the police. It would also be interesting to know whether the same procedures etc are required with noisy vehicles as well.
So Met police when are you going to hand over these responsibilities to our London local authorities and get this responsibility off your hands?