Cloned Number Plates: Drivers Are Being Warned Of ‘Wild West’ Trade

A government advisor has described the trade of cloned number plates as being a ‘Wild West’ scenario. There’s been a surge of cases in which motorists are incorrectly accused of driving offences…

The ‘Wild West’ of Cloned Number Plates

There’s been a surge of cloned number plates in the UK; causing a rising number of motorists to be incorrectly accused of driving offences. One government advisor has described the situation as being reminiscent of the ‘Wild West’. The DVLA has been receiving an increasing number of complaints, with figures rising from 656 in April 2019 to 1,105 in March 2020. The figures were obtained via The Telegraph, thanks to a Freedom of Information request.

Tony Porter, a government advisor and former assistant police chief constable, is calling on the government to do more to clamp down on the practice. He’s suggested that a new registration scheme be introduced, which would see plates marked with a reference number or hieroglyph; the goal being to make them much easier to trace. Porter said, “the consequences of cloning range from a rather annoying penalty ticket landing on your doorstep for jumping a red light to more extreme cases, where your vehicle has been incorrectly identified as being involved with organised criminals and triggers a firearms stop on a motorway”.

Commenting on the issue, a DVLA spokesperson emphasised the importance of contacting the police if number plate cloning is suspected. They said, “any motorist who believes they have been a victim of number plate cloning should contact the police. They should also contact the issuing authority of any fines or penalties they receive with appropriate evidence that shows their vehicle was not in the area at the time. DVLA Enforcement Officers assist the Police and Trading Standards in their enforcement against number plate suppliers, including those who trade illegally using the internet”.

The Law as it Stands 

As of now, it’s illegal for a company to issue new number plates without having first seen proof of the car’s ownership; this usually consists of seeing registration documents. Suppliers are subject to strict regulations, most of which are described by the British Number Plate Manufacturer Association (BNMA). Manufacturers and suppliers need to register with the DVLA to acquire a Register of Number Plate Suppliers (RNPS) ID. They also need to keep a formal and accurate record of all the number plates they supply. However, an increasing number of them are establishing themselves overseas in order to avoid UK law.

Cursory searches on most search engines will bring up adverts for number plates suppliers; many of which ask for no proof of ownership at all. Until legislation gets tougher, motorists need to familiarise themselves with the risks of number plate cloning. If you’re being charged with an offence you simply didn’t commit, it’s worth considering the possibility that your plate has been cloned.

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