MORE 20 miles-per-hour speed limits could be introduced across Worcestershire - with police chiefs saying they are willing to actually enforce them.

Your Worcester News can reveal how 82,000 people have been caught speeding in just one year across the West Mercia Police force area, forking out £6.3 million in fines.

The figures come as police and crime commissioner Bill Longmore has just finished a public consultation on the issue, saying “a majority” of people backed lower speed limits.

Generally 20mph zones are not usually enforced.

But Mr Longmore says West Mercia Police is now ready to start “applying the same approach” to 20mph zones as legal limits elsewhere, punishing drivers who do not comply.

He also says he expects Worcestershire County Council to respond seriously to public requests for 20mph areas.

The stance comes seven months after the Conservative leadership rejected a bid for blanket 20mph limits in residential areas - and at the time a lack of police enforcement was cited as one reason to refuse it.

Members of the Tory administration said today they were still not convinced by it.

Figures show how there were 43 deaths across the West Mercia force area last year where speed was a factor, and 385 serious injuries.

Each death costs taxpayers £884,000 to investigate, according to the Audit Office, with deputy police and crime commissioner Barrie Sheldon calling it “eye watering”.

Between March 2013 and April 2014 82,249 drivers were caught speeding across the force area, with £6.3 million handed over in fines.

Mr Longmore said: “There are specific areas within our force area where people passionately believe a change in speed restrictions would make their community a better, safer place.

“My message and commitment to them now is that if a successful case is made and local authorities introduce 20mph zones, the police will do their part and work to enforce that limit.”

He has agreed a specific policy wording with chief constable David Shaw stating where an “evidence basis” for lower speeds are clear, they “would expect local authorities” to take it up.

His comments follow a blog by Mr Sheldon where he criticised speeding drivers, saying the number of deaths nationally were up four per cent last year to 1,775.

Mr Sheldon said he doubted if councils have the money to properly engineer all of their roads to slow traffic down.

In it, he added: “The costs involved are eye watering - each fatal investigation costs an average of £884,000 and the Audit Commission estimates the average cost to society for each person killed as £1.9 million.

“Of course the greatest cost of all is the impact on the family and friends of those who are killed or seriously injured.

“I don’t think anyone would argue that road safety should ever be considered as not being a priority for the police.”

Around 50 people took part in the consultation.

Although Worcestershire generally has limits of 30mph or higher, 16 schools have 20mph limits as do selected streets in Rubery, near Bromsgrove and six roads in Pershore including the High Street, Bridge Street and Newlands.

The Arboretum, Merrimans Hill Road and Camp Hill Road, all in Worcester, have 20mph limits as do Coronation Road, Duke of Edinburgh Way and Somers Park Avenue in Malvern.

Bosses at County Hall say they will consider lower speed limits on a case-by-case basis but remain unconvinced.

During the summer a bid by campaigners to get six streets around the Royal Grammar School in Worcester re-classed as 20mph failed to be accepted, with council chiefs saying they would not consider any more until 2017.

Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for highways, said: “We’re not pushing 20mph limits, it’s not something we’re convinced of.

“But we’re all for safer roads, we’ve had a trial in Rubery which we’re still waiting to see the results from.”