back to article Wannabe W1 DOW-er faked car crash to track down reg plate's owner

A man from Bristol, England, lied to a government agency to get his hands on a private number plate reading "W1 DOW", a court has heard. In a hearing at Bristol Magistrates' Court, Miles Savory – director of Accident Claims Handlers – yesterday pleaded guilty to illegally obtaining the personal information of the plate's owner …

  1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    So it turns out he's actually an 'unsavoury' character : -)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I am really shocked that someone who runs an accident claims company would ever resort to underhand and not quite legal practices, really shocked I tell you.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        and why does he want widow on his numberplate? for when he's chasing ambulances?

        1. jmch Silver badge

          "and why does he want widow on his numberplate?"

          Sad attempt to earn sympathy from ladies and/or show availability?

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Wouldn't he want "W1DOWER" then?

        2. Ogi

          > and why does he want widow on his numberplate?

          Similar reason to the guy he wanted to buy it from? Or maybe he owns an early Porsche 911 and wanted an appropriate plate?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    And what about the DVLA?

    Did they say:

    Thanks you for calling. Can we have the crime reference number and the Police station dealing with the case. Once we have that we will pass the information onto them and they will pass the details on.

    or:

    Sure no problem, here you go.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: And what about the DVLA?

      Why would the DVLA do something logical and helpful like that?

      1. Aqua Marina

        Re: And what about the DVLA?

        I think the DVLA should be reported to the ICO for failing to have stringent checks in place. It looks like they give out info without any kind of due dilligence.

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: And what about the DVLA?

          Due diligence check was probably done initially against the company, so that any requests from them could be honoured without having to go through the rigmarole of a check each time.. Once initial trust has been established, the trusted party can (if they are so inclined, and he was) abuse that trust.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: And what about the DVLA?

            "the rigmarole of a check"

            The "rigmarole" could include requiring the crime number as per the OP and making 1 in N checks with the police. It's called "having a process in place".

            It raises the question of how DVLA will respond to further requests from this guy's office in future. If they really do make the thorough checks which now seem appropriate it could cost him a packet.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: And what about the DVLA?

              Well in some countries everyone is entitled to look up any vehicle / owner details.

              So is it that big a deal?

              I realise there will be knee jerk privacy enthusiast downvotes , but it works in other countries - proper civilised countries i'm talking ... ( i think its Norway)

              They also make public how much everyone earns

              1. Peter2 Silver badge

                Re: And what about the DVLA?

                It's not publically available in the UK, and he broke the law in obtaining the information under false pretenses.

                So yes, it's a big deal in this country.

              2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

                Re: And what about the DVLA?

                "privacy enthusiast"?

                What are you then? A privacy invasion enthusiast? Any authoritarian's wet dream.

        2. Goldmember

          Re: And what about the DVLA?

          "I think the DVLA should be reported to the ICO for failing to have stringent checks in place. It looks like they give out info without any kind of due dilligence."

          Big upvote for that. They've passed my details on to various cowboy private parking "companies" without any checks, and even allowed one of my previous cars - which was stolen and had been reported as such - to be registered to someone else and taxed.

          It seems that not only do they not have 'stringent' checks in place, they seemingly have no checks at all.

          Fuckers.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: And what about the DVLA?

            As long as they go after the individuals responsible and don't fine the DVLA (ie tax payers).

            Like that's going to happen.

          2. TonyB

            Re: And what about the DVLA?

            Perhaps the system should be changed so that when a private (non police) entity asks for ownership details, you are also sent a copy of the response. And if it shows that the enquiry came from 'Ethical Parking Limited' and a week later you get a penalty demand from 'Bovver Boy Parking', you know that EPS have passed on your details to BBP (probably the same person, but legally separate entities so presumably in contravention of DVLC rules) and on receipt of a complaint, DVLC should stop both entities from accessing their data.

    2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: And what about the DVLA?

      I think the first question by the DVLA was "And how would you like to pay?"

  3. Len Goddard

    W1DOW

    I read that as widow, not window. So, not only an idiot but an idiot who cannot spell.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: W1DOW

      Windows on your mind? What's worse, not being able to spell, or not being able to read?

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: W1DOW

      "I read that as widow, not window. So, not only an idiot but an idiot who cannot spell."

      Is this a Linux thang?

      1. Patrick R
        Windows

        Re: W1DOW

        At least (with W1ND0S) there could have been an IT angle.

      2. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

        Re: W1DOW

        I regret not buying L18NUX when it was up for sale a decade ago.

        1. Spanker

          Re: W1DOW

          There was a bloke at our City firm who paid a fortune for G3WAP, for his 850i if I recall.

          Not worth much now I guess.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if F3 LON is available for him...

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      It's a pity C0 CK is banned for the chap.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Let's fund C0 CKUP for him and force him to use it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Or F1 NED but I think PR15 SON would have been more appropriate here.

          1. ukgnome Silver badge

            he will have to make do with PR 1CK

            1. Sampler
  5. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Trollface

    They have internal combustion engines in Bristol now?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      They didn't call it the Bristol Olympus (as seen used in the Vulcan, and Concorde) because it was made in Kent mate.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "They have internal combustion engines in Bristol now?"

      IIRC they used to have SOHC 2l engines back in the days when there were still side-valve engines in use.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
        Trollface

        Shame they were based in Filton, not Bristol.

  6. KingStephen

    Has he told his wife ...

    ... exactly why he wants that plate?

    1. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Has he told his wife ...

      I suspect he probably drives a black car?

      Black widow.

  7. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    The article didn't mention

    how much the victim received ....

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: The article didn't mention

      my guess would be that the victim received "The satisfaction of seeing the perpetrator punished for his misdeeds"

      In Other Words: SFA

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accident Claims Handlers Ltd

    https://companycheck.co.uk/company/03877804/ACCIDENT-CLAIMS-HANDLERS-LIMITED/companies-house-data

    Do they still have access to DVLA data after this?

  9. Test Man

    I think it's worrying that the DVLA readily give out personal data without any due diligence. In this case, if a crash happened with someone's vehicle, why aren't they asking the obvious question of "why aren't your insurance company asking us for this info?"?

    1. Aqua Marina

      He managed to get the data by misusing his position, Director of "Accident Claims Handlers Ltd". The kind of company people use when making insurance claims.

      1. DJ Smiley

        Says it all really...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And do they still have access to DVLA data after the incident???

    2. jimbo36

      Because in the UK

      a) It is possible to self-insure, but as it's so expensive its only done by businesses

      b) You may be trying to settle without the use of an insurer.

      A better question, as mentioned by other people, would be "what is the crime reference number".

  10. zebthecat

    BE11 END

    1. Huw D
      1. Laura Kerr
  11. Spudley

    Somewhat unfortunate for the victim to be named in this article (and presumably in public elsewhere), given that the whole point of the case was that his privacy had been breached.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      My thought too. Still, one assumes that be knew that a court case would make his name public and yet he wasn't so fussed that he didn't proceed. The public don't have his contact details to pester him.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did he get the plate in the end?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "genuinely remorseful"

    I doubt it being a director of an ambulance chasing business. Do they even feel anything?

    1. Stuart 22

      "I doubt it being a director of an ambulance chasing business. Do they even feel anything?"

      Wallets ...

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      "genuinely remorseful he got caught"

      FTFY

  14. Nifty

    Switzerland....

    Funny how another country can think differently... in Switzerland, unless the car owner has succeeded in going ex-directory, the reverse lookup is public:

    https://www.ch.ch/en/number-plate-owner-details/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Switzerland....

      Yes but Switzerland doesn't have a population that contains complete idiots that will go round someones house for cutting them up on a roundabout. I've seen plenty of people get out of cars ready for a scrap.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Switzerland....

        But if you could do the lookup - when the complete idiot comes around your house you could dob them into the rozzers.... I rather bet that they wouldn't even get out of their car if they knew that they were easily identifiable

        1. dnj

          Re: Switzerland....

          With classic Minis and Landrovers, and many other classics too being stolen to order it would be very bad for the classic car community if anyone who sees a pic of your car on the Internet can then find it.

          Often pics of classics are taken at car shows and meets by people who are not the owner and so they can't control where they end up.

          The best number plate I ever say was BEG41T on the back of a Ferrari F40 about 25 or so years ago.

      2. CustardGannet

        Re: Switzerland....

        "Switzerland doesn't have a population that contains complete idiots that will go round someones house for cutting them up on a roundabout"

        Maybe that's because Switzerland requires all adult men to have a gun at home...

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Switzerland....

          "Maybe that's because Switzerland requires all adult men to have a gun at home..."

          Swiss men between 20-34 performing their military service, have a gun at home, but without ammunition.

          FTFY

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Badgers should have number plates.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Badgers should have number plates.

      Why? They're already bar-coded.

      (damnit, I'm sure we used to have a badger icon.)

  16. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Why don't the police ever go after people who alter the design of their stupid customer number plates illegally so that they read slightly differently? Oh, because it makes them money,

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because they're too busy nicking people who have just bought a second-hand car that has apparently used the wrong font on the plate, even with perfect spacing, and which has been driving around another part of the country for several years without difficulty.

      But the plod concerned was a Freemason, so no point complaining. Personally if I saw him lying in the gutter on fire I wouldn't cross the road to piss on him.

      How to increase the popularity of the plods with the general public.

      Me? Pissed off? Nooooo...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not all cops are crooks

        Let us say that due to leniency I have got away from two separate situations which would have resulted in:

        1st one - 6-9 points plus a fat fine (with already 3 points at the time)(I was a bit of dick here)

        2nd one - 3 points and possibly £60-odd fine (I was a bit unfortunate here)

        in neither case I was lying to the police or trying to make them pity me.

        So - don't tar everybody with the same brush.

        P.S. I have never worked for law enforcement, either in civilian or uniformed role

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not all cops are crooks

          So in your book, inconsistent enforcement of the law is a good thing?!? Justice?!?

          It really isn't all about you.

          1. FozzyBear Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Not all cops are crooks

            No it's called discretionary powers of the constabulary.

            Would you prefer a constable to pull you over and having found that you are not on drugs or alcohol and apologetic, he lets you off with a warning or the officer that regardless how good your driving record is hands over fist full of tickets and the feeling the gestapo could learn a thing or two from him.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Not all cops are crooks

              Ah yes, the infamous discretionary powers. So being a blonde bimbo or a black teenager would have no bearing on the outcome? LOL. Have you heard of white male privilege?

              Arbitrary law enforcement based on which cop you happen to get on the day or which side of bed he got out of, isn't justice.

            2. Nifty

              Re: Not all cops are crooks

              "Would you prefer a constable to pull you over and having found that you are not on drugs or alcohol and apologetic..."

              https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/728841/300-fine-woman-failed-fill-up-screen-wash

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Because they're too busy nicking people who have just bought a second-hand car that has apparently used the wrong font on the plate, even with perfect spacing, and which has been driving around another part of the country for several years without difficulty."

        Usually it's because the crappy ANPR cameras can't cope with any variation from the strict letter of the law in number plate design. Now that tax discs are gone, ANPR is how VED dodgers are caught so pretty much any number plate which isn't read by ANPR is seen as "suspect" and likely to result in a stop by any ANPR equipped plodmobile.

        Non-standard plates have always been illegal, but when it was down to the Mk.1 eyeball, it was generally easily readable so they didn't bother with the minor offences so much.

      3. thegroucho
        Flame

        irregular numberplates

        The law clearly states what the plates should be like.

        If you just bought a vehicle, it is your fault for not asking the seller to knock the price down for the few ££s it would cost you to rectify the matter. You would if you thought the price does not reflect the expected repairs, don't know why you would be paying only to replace the numberplates out of your own pocket.

        If you just bought the car and still waiting for DVLA documents, you can expect some degree of leniency if you are stopped for something as trivial as numberplates.

        Six months later however if you haven't rectified it - it is your own fault for being a lazy slob.

  17. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    The UK plate system is idiotic and outdated anyway. The British idea of a "personalised plate" is laughable as a result.

    The DMV should have realised the market for properly personalised plates years ago and begun a project to make it happen so it could be monetised.

    And before anyone feels the need to explain, I understand how the UK plates "work", and the difference in the way they are allocated to that of the USA. I owned cars in the UK for over a decade and once could read a car's birth certificate (so to speak). I lost the skill when literally everything else became important.

    There is no reason that plates couldn't be designed to convey the *important* registration info while at the same time allowing the freedom that US drivers have, should they wish to do so, to parade around with a personal message on their bourgemobile.

    Personal fave: "DETHTUNG" on a Corvette back in the 90s.

    1. CraPo

      Re: Bah!

      The post 1st September 2001 system is actually quite clever given what can be spelled out and the amount of business generated by it, whilst still being similar to the old system. It is claimed that the new system was designed to make it easier to remember registrations in the event of an accident or crime but if I was a suspicious man I would say that whoever came up with it had one eye on the custom sale aspect of it. I can't think of any other comparable European system.

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      If you are downvoting the "DETHTUNG" thing, you need to google "Billy and the Boingers".

      DETHTUNG doesn't mean what you might think it does.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "a private number plate"

    Or vanity plate as they are more correctly known.

    Both the bloke who wanted it and the bloke who has it are knobs - "W1DOW" spells "W1DOW" and nothing else.

    It's just a sodding serial number. Do these people try and get a telly with a serial number that supposedly spells something? How about a fridge?

    Sad cunts with money to piss away on frivolity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "a private number plate"

      You sound like just the sort of dickhead you're criticizing.

      Are people only allowed to do what you think is right. Do you think anyone complaining about how you spend your money is correct? If not, what makes you think you can tell others what to do? Arrogance?

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: "a private number plate"

      Oh dear Annon, has it annoyed you that someone has more disposable income than you?

      Are you infuriated that someone has the audacity to spend their money on something you feel to be silly?

      Christ, I can't imagine what you'd think if you looked at some of the things I've spent money on!

    3. ICPurvis47

      Re: "a private number plate"

      When I was courting, I was using my mother's 100E, but it just didn't cut the mustard as a passion wagon. I put feelers about at the college I was studying at, and soon found an old Austin Princess 3 Litre for the princely sum of £20 from one of the lecturers. After we were married and the Princess failed its MOT, we went to buy a new(ish) Vauxhall. My wife said she liked our old number plate, a second series (ie 3 numbers followed by 3 letters), so we transferred it onto the Vauxhall. It is now on its ninth car, my Classic Range Rover. This goes to show that you don't have to have large amounts of spare cash to own a desirable number plate, just be at the right place at the right time. As it happens, way back in the late Seventies, when the Third Series (3 letters, 3 numbers, and a Year Suffix) was approaching its end, the DVLA ran a competition to design a new system, which would consist of seven digits as previously and allow for more combinations. In the end they opted to simply reverse the Third Series (Year Prefix, 3 numbers, 3 letters), which took them up to the end of the century. I entered that competition and suggested a system which is almost identical with the current system, only the Registration Office letters have been changed from my suggestion. So, if as another commentard has stated, the system is ridiculous, I'm afraid that I'm at least partly to blame. (and no, I wasn't credited with the suggestion, nor did I receive any form of prize).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "a private number plate"

      Looks like the puritans are out in force...

  19. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Anybody who wants a personalised plate

    should be banned from the roads.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anybody who wants a personalised plate

      Why?

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Anybody who wants a personalised plate

      Anyone who wants to restrict what others should be allowed to spend their money on should be kicked in the nuts on the hour every hour.

      1. ADRM

        Re: Anybody who wants a personalised plate

        Anyone who wants to restrict what others should be allowed to spend their money on should be kicked in the nuts on the hour every hour.

        And the half hour too for good measure.

  20. Trumpet Winsock
    Coat

    Surgeon

    Before I retired I used to walk the couple of miles into work. Part of my route went along the main road into town.

    From time to time a sports car would go past with the registration TIB 1A. Yep, apparently a surgeon at the local hospital.

    One of the people who worked there told me that the surgeons wife also worked as a surgeon at the hospital and her car reg was FIB 1A. I'm not sure if they were winding me up about that.

    >>>>>>>>>>>> The one with the Stethoscope in the pocket

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Surgeon

      "One of the people who worked there told me that the surgeons wife also worked as a surgeon at the hospital and her car reg was FIB 1A. I'm not sure if they were winding me up about that."

      I would guess so, because the bone is the fibula, not the fibia.

    2. FozzyBear Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Surgeon

      Wonder if the one driving around with LAB 1A was the local gynecologist.

      Yeah, yeah, yeah I'm getting my coat.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So I now know from the article, roughly where Mr Bastow lives and his registration.

    If someone else wants his plates they can probably run an electoral roll search, walk down his road looking for W1DOW and send him a nice letter asking for them.

    Unless i'm completely wrong.

  22. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    If he's that hard up he should have gone for a pair of "romantic" plates like FULBA6 and ILBA9.

    Assuming that works with the system or course.

    1. Simon Rockman

      How do you *not* know what the system is?

      The plate which is most EL reg would be TCP 1P

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Californican?

  23. James 94

    only £700? chopping his gearstick off would be too good for him.

    Im not an expert on personalised number plates. But i guess it would cost much more than £700 for one plonker to part with a plate such as this to another plonker who contacted him out of the blue.

    I reckon this ambulance chaser is probably chuffed his "cheeky" attempt to get the details only cost him £700 and glad they didnt delve into "Accident Claims Handlers" business practices.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does that now mean

    the police can be fined for lying to suspects, or politicians for lying to the public?

  25. Reue

    Parking charge companies

    The good folks over at MSE claim to have a 99% success rate in court against private parking charges. As these charges are almost always thrown out will the DVLA begin handing over all of those requests to the ICO so these cowboy ex-clampers start getting hit by real fines (unlike their fake invoices)?

  26. createahandletheysay

    Why didn't he just fill in form v888? Ok there would still have to be a slight bending of the truth to submit (err car was parked on my private charge you £30 an hour carpark), but getting the police involved for a simple DVLA form?

  27. NXM

    Best plate I ever saw...

    .. was PEN1S on a mercedes in 1988 in Royston, Hertfordshire. I don't think you'd get away with that now.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Best plate I ever saw...

      PEN 15 floated around north London in the late seventies, on a Porsche, I think.

    2. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Best plate I ever saw...

      The most laughable I ever saw was "CLA55Y" ... on a dung-coloured Ford Granada, of all things!

    3. ADRM

      Re: Best plate I ever saw...

      GAV1N in the 70's in Huntingdonshire. Was on a luxury Ford Granada from Hunts Motors.

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