SPEEDING was lower during the first month of the coronavirus lockdown than the same month last year, but the highest speed recorded increased.

West Mercia Police dealt with 161 speeding offences in April 2020, compared to 6,507 in April 2019

The highest speed recorded in West Mercia this year was 115mph compared to a top speed of 105mph in the same period last year.

West Mercia’s data, supplied to the Press Association, compares fairly well with other police forces, many of whom did not have such a dramatic drop in the number of speeding offences recorded.

Derbyshire Police, for instance, recorded far more speeding offences this year, with 4,107 compared to 2,921 offences. The top speed recorded there was an eye-watering 130mph.

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The data for April is the most recent data available, but there have been a number of high speeds recorded in May and June, with many being stopped doing more than 100mph, usually on the M5.

At the start of June this year, West Mercia Police clocked 14 drivers speeding on the M5 near Worcester on one day, with speeds ranging between 90mph and 109mph.

Speed enforcement on the M5 captured one driver travelling at a speed of 132mph on the motorway between junctions 7 (Worcester South) and 8 (Strensham) on June 4. They also caught a van driver going at 87mph with a “dangerous defect” on its rear axle.

Kent and The Met Police both also reported large increases in the number of speeding offences.

Kent recorded 10,828 in April 2020 as opposed to 7,055 in the previous year, while the Met recorded 18,018, up from 15,202 in 2019.

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Detective Superintendent Andy Cox of the Metropolitan Police explained that many drivers caught speeding during the early weeks of lockdown did not expect officers to be patrolling near-deserted roads.

He said: "Because of Covid and the demands upon the emergency services at that time, I think there might have been a consideration to remove some assets and deploy elsewhere. But we didn't do that in London.

"Early on, for some people driving at extreme speeds, they would be really surprised to see us there.

"They would actually come out and say 'we thought you'd be busy dealing with Covid'.

"Maybe some people (tried to take) advantage because congestion was less and thought they'd get away with it."