The police have for some time had Automatic Number Plate Recognition System cameras at their disposal but until recently had not realised just how widespread the problem of uninsured drivers was ( estimated at 2M ) and just how effective the ANPR system can be in detecting these law breakers. London police have been engaged in operation Reclaim since the end of 2007 and have been surprised at the high number of expensive cars they have seized due to them not being insured. The trigger for the increase in ANPRS policing has come from a recent change in legislation which allows a beat officer to impound a vehicle whereas previously this was the duty of a specialised traffic officer.
The system works by photographing the number plate of each passing car and through special software comparing the car registration with the database of 35M legally insured drivers provided by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. If the photographed car is not on the database the vehicle is stopped and if the driver cannot produce proof of insurance the vehicle is impounded. Owners have 14 days to reclaim their car and pay a fee of £105 plus £12 per day . They also face a £200 fixed penalty and six penalty points
Five London boroughs are trying the scheme now and it should cover the whole capital by the end of 2008. Other forces are following suit with North,South and West Yorkshire forces joining humberside in a crackdown on this type of offence. The days of the uninsured driver look to be numbered, which is got to be a good thing.