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Court summons for speeding on the rise

Press release: 21/06/2013

  • The number of court summons issued for speeding increased by 10% in 2012 [1]
  • Almost one in six motorists (16%) have been caught going faster than the legal limit in the past five years [2]
  • Police handed out half a million fixed penalty notices for speeding offences in 2012
  • British motorists were fined £30 million for speeding last year [3]

The number of drivers summoned to court for speeding increased by almost 10% last year from 44,000 to 48,000 [4] - equating to nearly 1,000 drivers a week. Police data obtained by a freedom of information request from LV= car insurance reveals that while the number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued for speeding has fallen (by 6%), court summons have increased.

Court summons are issued instead of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) in cases where the speeding offence was deemed particularly serious [5], which suggests a growing minority of drivers are committing the worst offences. Research among motorists reveals almost one in six (16%) drivers who have been caught speeding were driving more than 25 mph over the limit [6] at the time, which would be above the threshold for a court summons [7] in most cases regardless of the local speed limit (see table 1).

Overall last year Police handed out almost half a million (492,479) fixed penalty notices for speeding and 48,006 court summons [8] equating to British motorists being fined £30 million for speeding. Most drivers who were caught speeding said they were spotted by fixed speed cameras (62%), with a significant proportion caught by Police with a camera at the roadside (22%) and Police without a camera (10%) [9].

Many motorists admit they regularly exceed the speed limit without getting caught. One in seven (14%) drivers say they avoid detection by memorising where police patrol in their area, while others have technology in their vehicles, such as SatNavs, to detect fixed speed cameras and alert them while driving (16%) [10].

While some drivers claim to be getting away with breaking the speed limit, it is often a factor in the cause of accidents. 360,000 motorists [11] say they have been involved in an accident caused by a speeding motorist in the past five years.

Britain’s roads are set to get even faster in future as last week the government announced that trials of an 80mph speed limit could take place from August this year. According to the current ACPO guidelines, a motorist caught driving at 80mph on the motorway (70mph speed limit) would receive a FPN but would need to be travelling at 96mph to receive a court summons. If the speed limit is increased to 80mph, it is possible that only those driving well over 100mph would receive a court summons.

According to the FOI data available, Lancashire Constabulary issued the most court summons in 2012 (10,641) compared with 52,751 fixed penalty notices in the same year. Hampshire Constabulary was the next highest, issuing 6,778 court summons and 34,405 FPNs; followed by Nottinghamshire Police who issued 4,771 court summons and 23,597 FPNs that year.

While overall speeding convictions are down, it appears that the Police are rightly taking a hard line on the most serious speeding offences. However, if a driver is caught exceeding the limit by even just a few mph, they can still be fined and given penalty points. Drivers should take care to know their limits to avoid a fine, penalty points or worse.

John O’Roarke, Managing Director of LV= car insurance

Table 1. The Association of Chief Police Officers speed enforcement policy guidance

Speed limit

ACPO charging threshold (FPN)

Court summons



















Table 2. Highest number of FPNs and court summons issued by Police forces for 2012 and 2013 to date (based on the FOI data available).


Most fixed penalty notices 2012

Most court summons 2012


West Mercia (84,049)

Lancashire (10,641)


Kent Police (57,640)

Hampshire (6,778)


Lancashire (52,751)

Nottinghamshire (4,771)


Humberside (48,219)

Humberside (4,272)


Suffolk (42,975)

West Mercia (4,258)


Hampshire (34,405)

Warwickshire (3,654)


Warwickshire (24,606)

Kent (3,448)


Nottinghamshire (23,597)

Suffolk (2,904)


Northamptonshire (20,608)

North Wales (2,140)


Aberdeen and Moray (20,506)

City of London (1,801)

  1. Source: FOI request from LV= car insurance. Of the forces that responded to the request, in 2011 a total of 44,206 court summons were issued, compared to 48,006 in 2012 – an increase of 9% (almost 10%). 48,006 drivers / 52 weeks = 923 per week.
  2. Source: ICM research. 16% of motorists say they have been caught speeding in the past five years.
  3. Source: FOI data. The combined number of FPNs issued last year from the forces that responded to the FOI was 492,479. Each of these carries a fine of £60 ( Therefore, 492,479 x £60 = £29,548,740, or almost £30 million worth of speeding fines.
  4. Source: FOI data.
  5. Source: Court summons are typically issued when the alleged speed is too high to be dealt with by the way of a fixed penalty, the motorist has nine penalty points on his licence, the fixed penalty has not been paid or the motorist has failed to produce his documents at the Police station.
  6. Source: ICM research.
  7. Official guides from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). They suggest that enforcement will normally occur when a driver exceeds the speed limit by a particular margin. This is normally 10% over the speed limit plus 2 mph. It also sets guidelines for when it would not be appropriate to issue a fixed penalty notice but to issue a summons instead (see below). Note that these are guidelines and that a police officer has discretion to act outside of them providing he acts fairly, consistently and proportionately
  8. Source: FOI data.
  9. Source: ICM research. Respondents were asked how they were caught speeding. ‘Other’ represents 12%.
  10. Source: ICM research.
  11. Source: ICM research. 76% of British adults drive (36,252,000). Of these, 1% say they had an accident as a result of a speeding driver in the past five years, a total of 362,520.

For further information please contact:

Vanessa Chance,, 0208 256 6996/ 07947 380074


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