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back to article DVLA urged to consider number plate recognition

An NAO report has said the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) should consider using automatic number plate recognition to estimate the level of vehicle tax evasion. The report (pdf) says that despite receiving many plaudits for its electronic vehicle licensing (EVL) system, which enables customers to pay vehicle excise …

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Silver badge

Few issues with this

For starters, there are thousands and thousands of cars out there with cloned plates and this is on the increase in London, where the driving tax (sorry Congestion charge) is in place. So provided you clone one with current tax, your fine.

Next up, is despite the threats of crushing cars and clamping, how many time do we watch Chav Tv (AKA Street wars, police Camera etc) and see the usual scum driving around with no tax and insurance be warned by the police? Sorry kick them out and squash the car. Even if they are 500 miles from home, let the scumbags walk...

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So all tax evaders register the vehicle do they?

Surely they can only get the revenue back if the vehicle they snap is actually registered to the drivers address.

I would have thought that the hard core evaders would not be that stupid. This is what made me laugh at the ominous black server ads that ran on the telly saying "We know who you are". Well, quite frankly Mr DLVA, in a lot of cases you don't!

The only way these people get caught if they are actually get pulled over by the Police whilst driving the untaxed car.

This country is relying far too heavily on camera technology as if it's some magic cure to all crime.

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Go get 'em

Whilst they are at it, can they also recognise and fine those plonkers who play with their number plates to inflate their egos, causing them to be sometimes almost unrecognisable.

The law was changed when the "new-style" Reg. Nos. were brought in to stipulate only 2 fonts and a regulated spacing on plates. Does ANYONE enforce this ? Judging by the explosion in instances of them, I don't think so !

I understand that in the USA (where personalised plates are quite the norm) that all plates are actually produced by their equivalent of the DVLA - or am I mistaken ? It's due to the ease with which plates are obtained that there are so many false ones about.

Moan over but a serious issue I think nevertheless ?

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Anonymous Coward

13 months for the price of 12

A month's road tax for free... spiffing...!

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Pffft!

I get it. Instead of scrapping the vastly unpopular and costly to manage Car Tax system and adding the tax onto fuel. Which would be fairer.

Let's introduce another costly system to clamp down on dastardly evaders and spend the requisite millions more on even more stazi like threatening TV advertising.

Spend more money having "illegal peoples" cars crushed and tie up more of the Polices time stopping and prosecuting tax ne'er-do-wells.

Right that makes sense. !$%*@#!

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The number of 'unlicenced' motorcycles is seriously over estimated.

These surveys regularly calculate that something like a third of all motorcycles are unlicenced. They are also regularly wrong...

Typically bikers (as compared to scooter kiddies) have more than one bike. Many of my biker friends have old bikes which are long term projects. These are often registered to them but predate SORN requirements and are so technically 'untaxed'. Many people ride only in the summer and so their bikes are untaxed. Yes they should SORN them but many don't. All of these bikes are stored in garages, sheds, anywhere but rarely on public roads.

A couple of years ago the Yorkshire police tried to 'clamp down' on all these unlicenced bikers by putting up check points on the popular biker roads. The result of the summer campaign was two unlicenced bikes and a bunch of country folks' dodgy old vehicles. There was big publicity about the campaign but very little about the results.

Basically bikes are treated the same as cars and in some cases worse than cars. It is assumed that we're all tax dodgers. We're guilty until proven innocent. The proposed scheme for RFID tags in plates will be trialed on motorcycles. If taxed we have to have insurance even if the bike is not being ridden. So in order to save money over the winter we have to 'delicence' the bike, i.e. SORN it, just so we don't have to pay insurance when not riding it. Then we have to go through the rigmarole of relicencing it again. In the end its such a hassle that you end up paying for licence and insurance for the whole year anyway...

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Silver badge

No Way Pedro!

No, no, no. If it's *that* hard to enforce payment of a tax, then perhaps the government need to go right back and consider the way it's collected in the first place.

First, know your history. The road fund tax was originally conceived in the days when motor cars were a luxury item used by a minority of the population. Today, the opposite is true; a vehicle is a necessity and almost everyone has one. And checking every single vehicle on the roads for the presence of a valid tax disc is not a realistic prospect anymore.

It would, therefore, make the most sense to collect this money from general taxation; which, by its very nature, almost nobody can evade. Income tax is deducted from your pay packet before you receive it, and VAT is included in the price of goods in shops. Income tax fraud and VAT fraud aren't non-existent, but the number of people who are in a position to commit such crimes is much more manageable than the number of people who are in a position to commit road fund tax fraud (every vehicle owner; in other words, almost everybody).

The non-car-owning minority could be compensated through some sort of payment similar to a state benefit -- *if* it's actually worth doing so. (But they do seem quite content to ride in other people's vehicles, and to buy goods in shops that were delivered by road; so perhaps it's time they just started paying their way like everyone else.)

On the other hand, doing it this way wouldn't allow the control-freak government to try to micromanage citizens' lives to the nth degree .....

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EVL scheme

EVL scheme, seriously ? Was it developed by Dr EVL as the final year project at EVL university ?

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Anonymous Coward

White Elephant.

It can't be long now before the EU wakes up, smells the coffee and removes one of the last serious obstructions to mobility in Europe. Motor vehicle registration, testing and Insurance.

I reckon that within five years the UK will be obliged to accept a TUV as proof of roadworthiness, will have to accept that people don't have to register their cars locally, just 'cos they live there at the moment (like most other places in Europe)and the auto Insurance market will be deregulated.

So the DVLA's integrated, all-singing, all-dancing registration, MOT and Insurance database will be just another phenomenal short-sighted waste of taxpayer's cash.

Of course, they could go over to the commonly used continental system of having the tax and test shown on the number plate so anyone can see it, but that wouldn't require a huge IT budget and an army of staff to administer and this is the Civil Service.........

TeeCee

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Hmm... says it all!

"The NAO also says the EV[i]L scheme...."

nuff said!

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Anonymous Coward

So what are all these cameras in DVLA colours doing around the M-ways?

So what exactly are all the new green painted camera sites on the M11, M25, etc and unmarked vehicles with people in DVLA branded shirts on the A14 doing? Scratching something? Or maybe we are looking at yet another case of a report which is hurried after the deployment to justify it?

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Anonymous Coward

Big brother is watching you (are you watching BB?).

"The only way these people get caught if they are actually get pulled over by the Police whilst driving the untaxed car."

Already happening in various parts of the country, not sure if it's happening everywhere. It used to take a Transit-sized van full of kit. These days an ordinary patrol car with a couple of officers, a hand held camera, a laptop, and a GPRS link is more than enough to do ANPR in realtime, check the tax and insurance in realtime, and check the "wanted list" in realtime (e.g. http://www.guk.co.uk/mobile.html). Meanwhile there'll be a selection of police cars and bikes tucked out of sight not far away, waiting for instructions from the camera vehicle; that aspect of things means it tends to be done sporadically rather than full time.

Additionally, as you may have heard earlier this month, the cops are likely to be given access to ANPR data from official traffic CCTV systems across the UK: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6903902.stm

So, yeah, there's a way to catch them, *if* anyone in HQ is really bothered. Mostly though, HQ seem more interested in chasing implausible terrorists, and making the odd fatal mistake.

Back to ANPR: as already noted, cloned number plates are a serious issue, and as already noted there is a simple solution: close the back street number plate shops, to be replaced by a single, properly regulated, source of number plates - which as noted also fixes the illegal spacing/illegal fonts issues. It has to be done soon.

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Anonymous Coward

A problem in search of a technical solution - not!

RFID tags? In the USA vehicle license plates have a distinctively coloured adhesive patch that is provided by the state government only upon payment of the yearly fees (taxes and whatnot). The local police do issue citations for failure to display the patches. No expensive technology needed.

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Silver badge

In the US...

> I understand that in the USA that all plates are actually produced by their equivalent of the DVLA

Yes, you pay your reg & they hand you a metal tag with the number stamped into it. Actually these days they give you a new tag every 5 years to keep expenses down. The other years they give you a sticker to put in the upper right corner. It's got the month it expires (your birthday) and is a different color each year so the cops in the cruiser behind you can tell right off if it's expired.

I remember first hearing about the tax disc & do-it-yourself tag system and thinking "they're mad! how do they enforce that?"

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Gold badge

Change the system

Currently you can only get road tax by showing an MOT and Insurance document.

Taxing your car is used as some kind of check t ensure you can legally drive your vehicle. I'm sure that there's a better way of doing this which will allow people to pay their road tax even if their MOT has run out and they're waiting for the car to be fixed.

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Anonymous Coward

AJ Stiles - think again

It's people like you who end up giving us such a complicated system!

Add the tax to the cost of petrol/diesel and in one fell swoop those who use the roads more pay more, those with no car don't pay anything.

Matthew

P.S. And don't even get me started on why I have to pay road tax for both my car and motorbike, when there is no way I use them both at once...

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@A J Stiles

"Today, the opposite is true; a vehicle is a necessity and almost everyone has one."

Bollocks. This is petrolhead propaganda at it's most idiotic. I have never owned a car, nor been licensed to drive one, and I have no problem getting around.

If you have orgnanised your life around your access to a vehicle, that's your problem, and I refuse to pony up for your sad dependence.

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Tim

mot/tax/insurance

most road tax dodgers don't have an mot or insurance but if they get caught can get a fine lower than what they would have payed fo the insurance alone .an18 to 25 year old can pay £1000 to £2000 for insurance. so were is the incentive to be legal and honest except if daddy is supplying the new car.

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Anonymous Coward

This is an IT web site isn't it?

Deary me, when George Orwell wrote his 1984 book in 1949 he couldn't have realised he was actually writing the Labour Party's manifesto for the 21st century, before real computers came on the scene etc.

What government should actually be doing is to reduce the traffic on the roads by encouraging people to use the technology that they can work offsite with. And if tax is going to be used as a weapon, load people's income tax based upon their home to office mileage - easy to do this calculation electronically based upon postcodes. Why some people choose to commute 50 miles each way when they could conceivably get the same job locally (and which someone is driving the opposite direction to fill) beats me.

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Anonymous Coward

Motorcycle Madness!

I know someone who rides a motorcycle registered in their own name with no tax, mot or insurance (I know.... what a prat!) and he has been riding around for at least a couple of years in London and has never received any fines in the post. Do these cameras not work with motorcycle plates? I know motorcycles have different size/shaped plates but surely the ANPR cameras can still pick them up, can't they???

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Anonymous Coward

Whats with the tunnel vision?

To The Author of "This is an IT web site isn't it?"

Supposably you have a brain - please try and use it!!

"load people's income tax based upon their home to office mileage" - In an ideal world people might be able to live in close proximity to where they live - however we dont live in Uthopia. Usually property prices close to work locations in citys & towns are much too high for us ordinary people to afford! Also - residental property (if there is any) tends to have less space - be noiser - have more traffic - less parking & generally tends to be a less comfortable to live there.

Its probably ok if your a young single lad/lass and tend to be out most of the time anyway - all you really need is a bed.

Also, what happens if/when you change jobs & move to a new work location? Do you suggest that a person sells up & moves beside the new work location immediatly or should they be allowed to drive?

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