Police have wasted thousands of hours appealing fines in low-traffic areas, with the process taking more than 12,000 hours of London officers’ time.
Since 2020, the Metropolitan Police have received more than 54,000 fines, 56 percent of them for LTN-related offences.
Officers have the right to drive through LTN areas in an emergency, but unmarked police vehicles often receive speeding tickets from local government.
The appeal process for a speeding ticket can take an average of 25 minutes, which has resulted in 12,668 hours – the equivalent of 1,600 days – of wasted police time over the past three years, according to a Freedom of Information request.
According to a police source, there is a “trust issue” as police do not want to share number plates of unmarked police cars with different agencies.
Officers are personally liable for LTN fines if they fail to show, as part of the appeals process, that they were on duty and acted in an emergency
“We don’t want people to know that there are undercover cops working in the police force,” they said The times.
LTNs were introduced in 2020, since then Lambeth Local Council has issued 2,635 to the police.
The Met has successfully appealed 1,000 of those, but more than 1,600 have not been overturned — the reasons for this are unclear.
Officials are personally liable for the fines if they cannot prove as part of the appeals process that they were on duty and acted in an emergency situation.
That means police officers in Lambeth alone – which has the highest crime rate in London – have been fined £200,000 for driving through LTNs.
Some residents fear the fines will affect policing in the Lambeth Borough. One said routine surveillance of unmarked police cars at Railton had been reduced.
In a letter to a local resident, Labor MP Helen Hayes denied that LTNs would discourage police from patrolling.
“For years we’ve been told that the paperwork was going to end and we would be permanently on the streets.” But we’re still doing more paperwork than ever before. “It wastes a lot of our time,” a police source said.
They added that the process should be simplified, with senior officials sending the council a list of tickets issued for unmarked police cars and that that’s the end of it.
Some London Boroughs have noticed an improvement in the number of LTN tickets issued.
Police have wasted thousands of hours appealing fines in low-traffic areas, with the process taking more than 12,000 hours of London officers’ time
Ten LTNs have been established in Hackney. In 2020, police were issued 2,000 tickets, but after exceptions were added for unmarked police cars, that number dropped to 310 in 2021 and just 52 in the first six months of this year.
There are calls to scale up the Hackney Council’s approach, but ‘trust issues’ make this proving difficult.
Rezina Chowdhury, Deputy Leader of Lambeth Local Council, said: “Emergency vehicles are exempt from enforcement and no fines will be imposed for unmarked vehicles where we have been given the details.”
“However, it is important that emergency vehicles follow traffic rules when not responding to an emergency to reduce the risk to other road users.”
An FOI to Northumbria Police revealed officers were concerned about the introduction of LTNs in Newcastle.
An internal document said this would “adversely impact the ability of the armed forces” to effectively police the area as vehicle response times and fuel consumption increase due to longer distances.
Met Police, Northumbria Police, Hackney Council and Lambeth Council have been contacted for comment.