Published: 06:00, 25 May 2021
| Updated: 15:45, 25 May 2021
Kent Police issued 4,700 speeding tickets to motorists who broke the 50mph limit on the M20 during Operation Brock, figures reveal.
But no fines were issued to drivers of foreign registered vehicles, according to statistics released by the force under Freedom of Information legislation.
Between January and April, 4,707 penalty notices were handed out to motorists from the UK. Based on minimum fines being £100 drivers have forked out £470,700.
Police say they have not pursued motorists from other countries who exceeded the temporary 50mph limit between Junction 9 at Ashford and Junction 8 at Maidstone because officers are unable to identify then.
In its response to a request made by KentOnline, the police said that “there was no requirement for foreign vehicles to be registered with the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). As such the driver cannot be identified”.
However, the force did reveal that over the period in question, it issued 33 “roadside deposit” notices to drivers that did not hold a satisfactory UK address. These on-the-spot fines resulted in “ghost licences” being created.
The loophole for foreign vehicles came to light in 2019, when it emerged that no penalty notices had been issued for speeding to HGVs from abroad.
That was despite 900 breaking the limit during a seven-week period in which Operation Brock was in place between April and May as part of Brexit contingency preparations.
Many motorists had complained the scheme was unsafe because of the narrowness of the M20 lanes and the fact that they were overtaken by foreign HGVs breaking the limit.
The scheme which involves the implementation of a contra-flow along the 15-mile stretch of the motorway, was a major element of Brexit plans to limit the potential scale of disruption in the first months of the UK's departure.
Heidi Skinner, Logistics UK’s Policy Manager for the South: “Road safety is of paramount importance and all drivers must drive carefully and within the legal speed limits; drivers from outside the UK are no exception.
"Logistics UK urges all those using the UK’s roads to adhere strictly to the given speed limits to help keep our roads safe for all users.”
Operation Brock was a Highways England traffic management system designed to maintain traffic flow on the M20 during times of disruption at Kent’s ports.
It was initially implemented in December last year following the closure of the French border and remained in place while hauliers adapted to new customs rules and Covid-19 testing requirements after the end of the EU transition period.
Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Faulconbridge said: "The temporary speed limits were in place on the M20 with the safety of all road-users in mind and it is pleasing to note that the vast majority of motorists who used the motorway on a daily basis adhered to them and drove in a responsible manner.
"Those who did not risked action being taken against them, with more than 4,700 speed camera offences identified during the time the Operation Brock contraflow was in place.
"Whilst it is not possible to issue Notices of Intended Prosecutions to non-British vehicles due to the notices having no legal basis outside of the UK, there are other ways in which non-British drivers can be prosecuted for speeding offences such as on-the-spot fines.
"There were 36 instances where speeding offences were detected and on-the-spot fines were then issued during the time the contraflow was in place.
"Drivers without a UK address can have points placed on a ‘ghost’ UK driving licence by the DVLA, meaning they can be banned just like any other driver if they receive enough points when driving within the UK."