Number plate recognition tracks uninsured drivers

Launched earlier this month by the Transport Secretary Alistair Darling at West Midlands Police, a new system that will allow the existing Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems to link to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau database is now live.

Nov 17, 2005
By David Howell

The new system is making information about uninsured vehicles available to Greater Manchester, Merseyside, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire police in Operation Liability.

At the launch Alistair Darling said: “Today we are sending out a very clear message to those who drive without insurance – there is now no place to hide. The new powers to link up cameras and the insurance database will make it far easier for police to tell if passing cars are uninsured and take action against the driver. On top of these powers, we are creating a new offence of keeping a vehicle without insurance. This will be enforced through a new database of insurance details which means that uninsured drivers don’t even need to be on the road to be caught.”

Operation Liability is in response to moves by the Lord Chancellor Falconer to expand wheel clamping to deal with minor motoring offences. Under the plans, motorists could find their vehicles immobilised or impounded rather than being taken to court. The proposal is part of a radical scheme to remove millions of minor crimes from the court system to ease the burden on magistrates.

Meredydd Hughes, head of roads policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers and Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, said: “The police service and the Government are constantly striving to make our roads as safe as possible for all road users. Evidence indicates that up to 10% of vehicles on our roads are being used illegally and many of these will be people who drive with no insurance. We know that people who don’t insure their vehicles, or indeed drive with no licence or test certificate, are more likely to be involved in other criminal activity, and in collisions – collisions in which people may be killed or seriously injured. The operation that we are carrying out today will root out those motorists who do not comply with the law by insuring their vehicles.”

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