AN ILLEGAL sign warning motorists of a police speed trap meant just 13 offenders were caught driving at more than 40mph in the New Forest near Burley on Monday.

Verderers' clerk Sue Westwood told the July court at Queen's House, Lyndhurst the highest speed recorded by police on the Vereley road between Picket Post and Burley Street was 56mph.

"They would have caught more if someone had not put up a sign near the A31 saying there was a speed trap," she said.

PC Derek Grist warned that putting out signs or flashing headlights to warn other drivers of speed cameras is perverting the course of justice and carries a prison sentence.

All drivers exceeding the speed limit on Monday were given a £60 fixed penalty notice and three penalty points will be put on their licences.

All of them were given information about the Stay Under 40 campaign and warned of the dangers of driving at excess speeds.

Chief Inspector Gary Cooper said: "It is disappointing that we continue to have to stop drivers exceeding the 40mph speed limit on New Forest roads.

"In the majority of cases those speeding are local motorists.

"It is clear that the campaign must continue to educate motorists that the speed limit is in place not just to protect the animals but also them and their passengers.

"The number of deaths and injuries to animals has reduced since the campaign began earlier in the year.

"However, we will continue to conduct these operations targeting areas of concern and hot spots identified by members of the public."

A total of 35 commoners' animals - ponies, donkeys and cattle - have died as the result of collisions on New Forest roads from January 1 to the end of June, 12 fewer than in the same period last year.

Five ponies and one donkey lost their lives in a total 12 collisions during June. Eight of the drivers involved were from the forest area.