The Road Ahead
Greater Manchester Police Driving Criminals off the Road
Jon White has been a police officer for 21 years and is currently a sergeant on Road Policing Unit 5 based at Wythenshawe police station. One of his areas of responsibility is the M12 postcode which is a consistent hotspot for uninsured driving.
Sergeant White summed up the situation:
"If you use a motor vehicle on the streets of Greater Manchester without insurance or a valid licence you will be caught and your vehicle seized. Zero tolerance is the name of the game, so just don’t do it!"
Around 60 officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) took part in a special operation on 9 December 2009 aimed at driving criminals, including uninsured drivers, off the road. The day of action was part of Operation Admiral 2, a force wide operation targeting all forms of criminality in the GMP area. The road policing activity led by Sergeant Jon White, involved the extensive use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology and proved a huge success resulting in 40 vehicles being seized as well as a number of arrests. Road policing officers were deployed at fixed and mobile ANPR sites and responded to information supplied by MIB/DVLA and other agencies regarding insurance, excise duty, MOT testing and the validity of driving licences.
Any vehicle identified as erroneous was stopped by the officers and the driver questioned. Sergeant White was keen to involve the local media in the operation. “I think it’s important that people know what we’re doing, it’s a powerful deterrent to those who think they can break the law and at the same time it reassures the law abiding public that the police are doing their job.”
Working in a specialist unit called Operation Wolverine, set up to target this type of crime, GMP have seized over 50,000 cars during the last five years, and for those who get caught the penalties are high.
To reclaim their vehicles, owners have to prove that insurance cover is in place and then pay a fee of £150, plus a storage charge of £20 per day.
If an owner fails to reclaim the vehicle within seven working days, it is likely to be sold or even sent to the crusher. The same process is used to deal with motorists who are found driving without a valid licence.
Chief Superintendent David Anthony, of GMP’s Specialist Operations Branch, said: “By seizing 50,000 cars we are making sure that people are free to drive safely without coming into contact with an uninsured or unlicensed driver who may put them at risk. We are ridding the road of un-roadworthy vehicles and denying criminals the use of the roads. Since 2005 we have also seen a reduction in the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads.”