Police officer with speed gun

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Thirteen forces who provided data saw an increase in the speed of the fastest driver caught

There was a 71% increase in drivers caught speeding in London when the coronavirus lockdown started, new figures show.

The Met Police issued 3,282 Traffic Offence Reports to drivers suspected of exceeding the limit in April, compared with 1,922 in April 2019.

A further 14,736 people were caught by London’s roadside cameras in April 2020

But a Freedom of Information request found many forces in the UK saw a decrease in speeding as traffic fell.

Kent Police and Derbyshire Constabulary also recorded year-on-year rises in speeding incidents, up 53% and 41% respectively, according to data obtained by the PA news agency.

But the majority of forces who provided data recorded an overall decrease, amid a drop in traffic of around two-thirds as people were urged to stay at home.

Thirteen forces did see an increase in the speed of the fastest drivers caught, including in Dyfed-Powys, North Yorkshire, Police Scotland and West Mercia.

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Less traffic congestion may be behind the rise in speeding, Det Supt Andy Cox said

Drivers who receive a Traffic Offence Report for speeding can be sent on an educational course, fined or summoned to appear in court, depending on the severity of the case.

Det Supt Andy Cox of the Metropolitan Police said many drivers caught speeding during the early weeks of lockdown did not expect officers to be patrolling near-deserted roads.

“Early on, for some people driving at extreme speeds, they would be really surprised to see us there,” he said.

“They would actually come out and say ‘we thought you’d be busy dealing with Covid’.

“Maybe some people [tried to take] advantage because congestion was less and thought they’d get away with it.”

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The highest speeds recorded during the lockdown in London were:

  • 163mph on a 70mph road
  • 134mph on a 40mph road
  • 110mph on a 30mph road
  • 73mph on a 20mph road

Trackers based around the capital showed average speeds on many roads were above the limit.

Det Supt Cox said he wanted speeding to be seen “as socially unacceptable” as drinking and driving.

“I see more fatal and more life-changing collisions through speed than I do through drink-driving,” he said.

“I think the social conscience needs to change around it to address the issue of speeding because there’s not sufficient social condemnation of someone speeding.”

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