LA Enforcement explained

Local Authorities don’t need to rely on the police to prosecute speed limit offenders

Legislation provides scope for Local Authorities to institute criminal proceedings for offences such as speeding.  As well as bringing private prosecutions, where they wish to protect the interests of their residents, Local Authorities can also act as a “Public Prosecutor”, if authorised by the police.

Local Authority as Private Prosecutor

The Local Government Act 1972 gives Local Authorities powers to prosecute or defend legal proceedings as “Private Prosecutor”.

Section 222 (1) Where a Local Authority considers it expedient for the promotion or protection of the interests of the inhabitants of their area, they may prosecute or defend or appear in any legal proceedings and, in the case of civil proceedings, may institute them in their own name.

This power is granted to promote or protect the interests of the Local Authority’s residents, provided that appropriate authorisation is recorded

Court of Appeal AB&Ors, R v (2017) EWCA Crim 534 (28 April 2017).

Local Authority as Public Prosecutor

In order to prosecute speeding offences, the Local Authority would need authorisation from the police to act as Public Prosecutor.  The Criminal Justice Act 2003 Section 29 sets out the procedure:

29 (1) A public prosecutor may institute criminal proceedings against a person by issuing a document (a “written charge”) which charges the person with an offence.

29 (5) “Public prosecutor” means a police force or a person authorised by a police force to institute criminal proceedings.

Which offences could Local Authorities prosecute?

Under the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, the Crown Prosecution Service (“CPS”) usually undertakes criminal proceedings on behalf of the police, except for “Specified Proceedings”;

In practice, the police conduct proceedings of Fixed Penalty Offences until the cases are heard at trial if defendant pleads not guilty.  Therefore, as a “Specified Proceeding”, the police can, therefore, authorise the Local Authority to instigate such fixed penalty offences such as speeding.

Part 1 #3: The [CPS] Director shall … conduct …all criminal proceedings, other than specified proceedings, instituted on behalf of a police force.

“Specified Proceedings” includes Fixed Penalty Offences within the meaning of section 51(1) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988(1), which includes “Speeding offences under Road Traffic Regulation Act and other Acts” (per section 89 in Schedule 3 of the RTOA).

Enforcement provisions that need further police authorisation

Where further proof is required, such as speed camera records, vehicle registration details or driver identification, the police would need to authorise.

Section 20 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 on Speeding Offences:

Evidence of an offence produced by a record from a prescribed device and the circumstances in which the record was produced must be signed by a Constable or a person authorised by the chief of police of the police area.

Section 172 (2) Road Traffic Act about driver identity:

Where the driver of a vehicle is guilty of a road traffic offence (some exceptions) the person keeping the vehicle shall give such information as to the identity of the driver as he may be required to give by or on behalf of a chief officer of police.

Section 27 of the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002 on vehicle ownership:

The Secretary of State may make any particulars contained in the register available for use … by a local authority for any purpose connected with the investigation of an offence.



In order to successfully prosecute speeding drivers or where the registered keeper of a vehicle withholds information on the driver, Local Authorities need to have authorisation from the police to act as “Public Prosecutor” as well as having appropriate internal processes.


Thanks to Adrian Berendt of our 20's Plenty for Kent campaign for putting this together from our more technical briefing sheet.

Showing 2 reactions

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  • Rod King
    commented 2018-09-13 16:10:49 +0100
    Not yet, but we believe that several are considering it.
  • Andy Codd
    commented 2018-09-13 14:30:11 +0100
    Hi there, are you aware of any LA’s currently prosecuting through private or public prosecutions or about to start prosecuting?