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Police Increase Their Use Of Anprs Cameras

Feb 29, 2008
The police forces in England have, for some time had Automatic Number Plate Recognition System cameras at their disposal but until recently had not realised just how widespread the problem of uninsured drivers was ( some estimates put it as high as 2 million ) and just how effective the ANPR system can be in detecting these law breakers. London police have been engaged in operation Reclaim since the end of 2007 and have been surprised at the high number of expensive cars they have seized due to them not being insured. The trigger for the increase in ANPRS policing has come from a recent change in legislation which allows a beat officer to impound a vehicle whereas previously this was the duty of a specialised traffic officer whose time could better be spent on more serious offences.

The system works by photographing the number plate of each passing car and through special software comparing the car registration number with the database of 35million legally insured drivers provided by the Motor Insurers' Bureau. If the photographed car is not on the database the vehicle is stopped and if the driver cannot produce proof of insurance the vehicle is impounded. Owners have 14 days to reclaim their car and pay a fee of 105 plus 12 per day . They also face a 200 fixed penalty fine and up to six penalty points on their licence. Simultaneously the system also checks the DVLA database to see if the vehicle is taxed and has a current M.O.T. certificate as it has been found that offenders driving without insurance very often have no tax and don't bother with M.O.T. tests. Each of these offences also carry fixed penalty fines and penalty points on their licence so it is conceivable that, under totting up rules a driver could lose his licence immediately.

Cars that are stopped and found to have no insurance are impounded and if the owner fails to pay the neccesary fees and fines to have it released are either crushed or sometimes auctioned. Surprisingly some of these cars are high end luxury and sports models. It is thought that the owners of these, faced with very high premiums decide to risk driving without insurance, reasoning it is cheaper to risk being caught and pay the fine than pay thousands each year to be insured. Now however if they are stoppedthey will lose their car as it is so much easier for the police to seize it. The police hope that this new deterent will be enough to convince these owners that insurance is absolutely mandatory.

Five London boroughs are trying the scheme now and it should be extended to cover the whole capital by the end of 2008. Other forces are following suit with North, South and West Yorkshire forces joining Humberside in a crackdown on this type of offence. The days of the uninsured driver look to be numbered, which has got to be a good thing for all motorists as a collision with an uninsured driver costs the innocent party though no fault of his own.
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