PLANS to quadruple the amount motorists can be fined for speeding on the motorway have been criticised by a leading police official.

Ron Hogg, police and crime commissioner for County Durham, said financial penalties were not the best deterrent against poor driving and instead called for longer bans to tackle speeding or dangerous drivers.

The Government announced proposals last week to increase the maximum fine for speeding to £10,000 as part of widespread reforms to strengthen the penalties that can be imposed by magistrates.

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Mr Hogg, who has made speeding one of his policing priorities as commissioner, said road safety was a key concern for the public but that he did not agree with the Government that fines are the best way to target problem drivers.

He said: "The greater deterrent is the potential for short-term bans rather than increased fines.

“It is the loss of the right to drive that concerns most motorists.

“Additionally, any sanction ought to be linked to speed awareness training. Speeding is a very emotive subject, something we are working hard to address locally in County Durham and Darlington."

The proposals have also been criticised by Edmund King, president of the AA, who said: “For the vast majority of drivers the prospect of the existing £2,500 fine is a pretty good deterrent against excessive speeding on the motorway.

“We would not condone excessive speeding in any way but fines have to be proportionate to the offence and one has to question whether increasing the fines four-fold is proportionate, and it probably is not.

“If we had more cops in cars on the motorway that would be a much more effective deterrent.”

Under the proposals outlined to Parliament, as well as increasing the maximum fine for speeding on the motorway, the penalty for breaking the limit on dual carriageways and other roads will increase from £1,000 to £4,000.

Fines for using a mobile telephone at the wheel will also be increased.

Magistrates will also be given the power to impose unlimited fines for more serious offences such as careless driving or driving without insurance.