Reports of cloned number plates double as innocent motorists pay the price

Reports of cloned number plates double as innocent motorists pay the price
Complaints about the ‘Wild West’ trade in cloned registration number plates are on the rise.

1,105 motorists contacted the DVLA in March 2020 to object that their vehicle had been wrongly linked to offences – almost twice as many cases as the 656 seen in April 2019.

An estimated 40,000 retailers sell number plates in the UK. However, an investigation by The Telegraph revealed many of these outlets to be “flagrantly disregarding” the law.

Manufacturers need to be registered with the DVLA in order to produce plates, which are considered identity documents and regulated by the government.

According to the British Number Plate Manufacturers Association (BNMA), suppliers must see original documents before they can start to produce any plates and must keep a record of each plate they produce.

However, a Telegraph reporter managed to purchase six sets of number plates without suppliers checking vehicle ownership details.

Easy access to duplicates could allow criminals to fix false plates on a car of a similar make, model or colour in order to commit an offence which is later associated with another vehicle.

Tony Porter, a former assistant police chief constable said tougher regulation and bigger fines are needed to curb the ‘Wild West’ trade.

Meanwhile, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner warned demand for illegal plates may be being fuelled by the growing number of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.

Criminals armed with duplicate plates are better equipped to dodge ANPR cameras while also duping police officers into pursuing the wrong suspects.

One high profile case saw a Bradford City footballer pulled over and handcuffed by police because his Range Rover’s number plate had been cloned by someone wanted by the law.

Mr 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.”

A DVLA spokesman 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.”

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