Mark Milsom, the assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire Police today told the parliamentary inquiry on cycling that police officers do not enforce 20mph speed limits.
"We advise, we don't enforce [on 20 mph]," said Milsom, at the inquiry representing Association of Chief Police Officers.
An incredulous Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge asked: "What other laws do the police not enforce?"
The other MPs on the inquiry were also taken aback by Milsom's candour.
The Association of Chief Police Officers is an independent strategic body. ACPO’s 311 members consist of 223 chief police officers from the home forces of assistant chief constable rank (commanders in the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police) and above, plus 60 senior police staff members from the 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Stung by criticism on social media and news sites, ACPO has now issued a clarification on the position given by Milsom.
An ACPO spokeswoman said:
“In most cases, 20 mph limits will follow Department of Transport guidance and include features such as speed bumps or traffic islands designed to slow traffic. ACPO guidelines include thresholds for enforcement across all speed limits to underpin a consistent policing approach.
"However it is for local police forces to apply a proportionate approach to enforcement of 20mph limits based on risk to individuals, property and the seriousness of any breach. Where drivers are exceeding the speed limit through wilful offending, we would expect that officers will enforce the limit and prosecute offenders."
However, what does 'wilful' mean in this statement? It's not defined.