MORE than 2,000 cars have been seized by police covering Uttoxeter in the first year of a landmark crackdown on insurance dodgers.
Since Cars Behind Bars was first launched in May 2013 by Staffordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Matthew Ellis, Staffordshire Police has seen 2,004 cars, vans, motorcycles, mopeds, lorries and even a tractor seized with 665 vehicles scrapped.
A total of 60 higher value uninsured vehicles have been sold off at auction raising more than £35,000 in the last 12 months - with the proceeds going back into local communities in Staffordshire.
In the latest operation, a further five vehicles were seized as police patrols using ANPR technology targeted drivers without insurance.
The operation not only resulted in the seizure of five vehicles, but also three arrests. One male arrested on suspicion of drink driving, another male who was wanted by magistrates for failing to appear before them and the third man was arrested on behalf of the UK Border Agency for an immigration offence.
Mr Ellis said: “Since its launch a year ago, the crackdown on insurance dodgers has been far and away the most popular thing raised with me by people I’ve spoken to across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
“More than 2,000 people have now had to learn their lesson the hard way thanks to tremendous work by officers from Staffordshire Police. Those who drive without insurance can’t hide in Staffordshire.
“They are being caught and dealt with by having their vehicles seized and, in many cases, scrapped.
“It’s definitely struck a chord with law-abiding motorists who are hit by rising premiums because of these law-breakers.
“Why should we all pay more because some people don’t pay at all?
“It’s clear that the message is hitting home as the number of insured motorists on Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent roads has risen significantly during the crackdown.”
Cars Behind Bars uses extensive automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system that identifies those flouting the law.
Chief Superintendent Jon Drake, from Staffordshire Police, said: “In seconds the ANPR system identifies vehicles that are uninsured, as well as those that have no tax or suspected of being involved in other crimes.
“As well as specific operations, it’s also part of daily activities for officers to seek out and target those committing these offences. We often find that those who choose to drive on our roads without insurance are linked to other criminal offences such as theft and burglary.”
The fixed penalty fine for people who are caught without insurance was increased nationally from £200 to £300 in August 2013. Motorists also face their car being seized, could be summoned to court and be disqualified, and an endorsement of six penalty points. Drivers re-claiming their car when they have proof of insurance have to pay £150 car recovery costs plus £20 per day storage.