Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Met ignore minor driving breaches

No entry sign
Police will not charge drivers going through no entry signs

Police officers in London have been told they no longer have powers to enforce the law when drivers flout basic rules of the road.

Motorists caught making "minor errors of judgment" should face no more than words of advice, new Metropolitan Police (Met) guidelines said.

But drivers could be prosecuted if caught on street cameras owned by local authorities in the capital.

And police can still act if the driving puts other road users at risk.

The new guidelines say officers should not act if they spot drivers ignoring no entry signs, turning restrictions, traffic direction signs, flow priority, no u-turns and vehicle restrictions.

This is purely about getting the cash in to the council's coffers
Anti-camera campaigner Captain Gatso

A memo circulated to officers this week read: "Where officers witness offences in circumstances that amount to minor errors of judgment, drivers may continue to be stopped and words of advice given, however, no formal warning may be given or reporting action taken.

"Officers must not tell drivers that no proceedings will be brought as a local authority civil enforcement notice could still be issued, for example where the authority has captured the offence on camera."

A Met spokesman said: "Following a review of police powers after the introduction of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and the Transport for London Act 2003 police no longer have legal power to enforce certain moving traffic offences involving non compliance with signs.

"The power for enforcement now lies with Transport for London and local councils.

"Where officers see driving that is blatantly of a poor standard or that endangers other road users police will still intervene and take action under their general powers to tackle dangerous or careless driving."

Anti-camera campaigner Captain Gatso said: "This is purely about getting the cash in to the council's coffers."

A Transport for London spokesman said: "We would rather motorists understood and complied with the rules rather than issue a high number of penalty charge notices.

"Any money raised from traffic enforcement is put back into improving London's roads and traffic control."

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