Financial troubles contribute to rise in uninsured cars being seized by police

TOWED AWAY A car seized by the road policing unit for having no insurance.
TOWED AWAY A car seized by the road policing unit for having no insurance.

More cars have been seized by police in West Yorkshire in the first nine months of the year than during the whole of 2012.

Police took 681 vehicles off the road between January and September for being driven without insurance or by someone who does not have a licence.

That’s 15 more than the whole of last year – and there’s still three months to go.

Chief Insp Mark Bownass, who leads the road policing unit, said one factor in the increase could be that some drivers were struggling with the cost of running their cars.

“Quite a bit of it can be put down to austere times,” he said. “I can’t say it’s a factor but it’s got to be something.”

But he said the force had to take action for the safety of other road users.

Chief Insp Bownass said: “We have operations on a day-to-day basis. We’re starting one next month about the top four causes of fatalities – drinking, using a mobile phone, tiredness and speeding.”

Any vehicles stopped as part of planned operations or routine patrols have their details checked against DVLA and police databases.

If there is any doubt over whether a car is insured or the driver holds a licence, the car is immediately seized and taken to a compound.

During 2012, West Yorkshire police seized 656 vehicles – 165 for having no insurance and 126 because the driver had no licence.

Officers had seized 681 vehicles by the end of September this year – 165 for no insurance and 73 for no licence.

Drivers can only get their car back if they bring along insurance documents and a valid licence. They must also pay £20 for every day it was stored at the compound and a release fee of £150 for a car or bike, or £300 for an HGV.

Chief Insp Bownass said: “Some people can’t afford that or the car’s not worth it. People leave them in our compound and we crush them.

“Sometimes the vehicle may be of a standard where we can sell it at auction and put the funds pack into road safety campaigns.

“The other side of it is the courts. We do report people.”

Police figures show there were 266 unclaimed cars in 2012, and 291 had been left in compounds by the end of September this year.