Over a third of the vehicles seized by police from the streets of Staffordshire, totalling almost 9,000 over the past year, did not have any valid insurance.
Other reasons for the removal of vehicles was the absence of tax, being used in a crime, involved in traffic collisions, or being discovered abandoned.
Across the county a total of 8813 vehicles were seized in the 12 months up until the end of April and processed by the Force’s Vehicle Recovery Unit. The unit, based at the police headquarters in Stafford, liaises with the officer, the recovery operator and the owner of the vehicle to ensure that the vehicles are correctly identified, stored and released.
The DVLA registered keeper is sent a notice letter when a vehicle is seized by police, advising them of the seizure and its storage location and informing them of how to reclaim the vehicle and any associated recovery and storage costs.
However, 3372 of the vehicles seized in the last year were not collected and resulted in them being disposed of, meaning they were either sent to auction or scrap, dependent on the value of the vehicle. The money raised from any auction is held in a suspense account for up to 12 months from the vehicle’s seizure for the vehicle owner to claim the value of the vehicle back, minus expenses incurred for storing it. By the end of the 12 months, any money left is then invested in roads policing projects.
Inspector Andrew Chapman, who leads the Vehicle Recovery Unit, said: “Our zero tolerance approach has seen our Vehicle Recovery Unit do an incredible job in coordinating the disposal of so many vehicles. With the support of local officers I hope this sends a clear message that you must tax and insure your vehicle or you will be caught.
“The vehicle recovery team work very hard to contact the owner and give them ample opportunity to reclaim their vehicle with the right documentation. But there are a high number of vehicles not collected and ultimately disposed of each month, many of which have been seized for no tax or insurance.
“Insuring and taxing your vehicle has become a very simple process and price comparison websites can help you get a very good deal and save money. It is a legal requirement for any car that is driven on the road to have at least third-party insurance that covers your use of the vehicle, up-to-date vehicle tax and a current MOT certificate. We will always act upon a vehicle found to be unfit for the road and will always seize a vehicle discovered to have no tax or insurance. Please make everyone’s lives easier and get it insured.”
In the 12 months leading up to 30th April, Staffordshire Police have seized 3,267 vehicles for no insurance and 481 for having no tax. The remaining 5,065 vehicles were seized for various reasons such as road traffic collisions, identified as stolen, used in a crime or abandoned.
The legal obligations of drivers and riders can be found at https://www.gov.uk/legal-obligations-drivers-riders