Tackling Vehicle Crime: A 5 year Strategy


Crime Prevention Advice


Tackling Vehicle Crime: A Five Year Strategy

Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team

This document is issued by the Vehicle Crime
Reduction Action Team (VCRAT), which was established
in September 1998 to develop and implement a strategy
to meet the Government�s 30% vehicle crime reduction
target for the period 1999 to 2004. 



Vehicle crime accounts for a quarter of all recorded
crime. It costs over �3 billion a year and causes immense
distress and inconvenience to its victims. That is why
the Prime Minister has set a national target of reducing
vehicle crime by 30% over five years.

I set up the Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team to
develop the strategy for achieving that target. The
Action Team and its Task Groups included representatives
from every sector of the vehicle industry as well as
the police, consumers, insurers and Government. I welcome
this report on the Action Team�s work over the last
year, which offers a number of specific recommendations.

This report shows that the target can be achieved –
but only if all those organisations represented on the
Action Team and others play their part. This equally
applies to all of us as motorists.

The Government is determined to play its part. Much
is already being done to improve vehicle and driver
licensing and registration. The Action Team has now
identified a number of areas where fresh legislation
may help to achieve the target. Over the next few months
we will decide exactly what legislative changes are
necessary, so that we are ready to make them when Parliamentary
time permits. That will include assessing the proposals
for improved regulation of the salvage industry. We
will be following the procedures that we have agreed
across Government to ensure that we make a full assessment
of the impact before we introduce any new regulatory

We will also want to consult widely on the Action Team�s
proposals on immobilisers on used cars. The Action Team�s
assessment makes a strong case, setting out the very
substantial crime reduction benefits which greater security
on used cars could produce. We will be considering over
the next few months whether that should be achieved
through a compulsory scheme, or whether voluntary fitting
of better security would be the best way forward.

The Action Team considers that there is not a compelling
case at present for the introduction of compulsory carrying
of driving licences. I will want to look again at that
in the light of developing technology and further assessment
of the potential wider crime reduction benefits.

The Action Team rightly identifies the importance of
providing the public with information to make well-informed
decisions about vehicle security, including what car
to buy, and where it can be safely parked. We will be
looking to make available to the public the best possible
information so everyone can make well-informed choices.

Many police forces and local crime and disorder reduction
partnerships have already taken up the challenge and
included vehicle crime reduction targets in their plans
for the current year. From next April I shall want to
see all police forces and local partnerships have vehicle
crime reduction targets which will reflect the scale
of the local problem and contribute to the achievement
of the national five-year target.

I am very grateful for the Action Team�s work, which
shows that, working together, we can achieve our target.
We will continue to support their work. Comments on
their proposals should be sent to Colin Petter at the
Home Office (Room 576, 50 Queen Anne�s Gate, London
SW1H 9AT) by Tuesday 30 November.

Jack StrawHome Secretary

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Chairman�s Introduction

  1. The Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team was set
    up in September last year to carry forward the work
    necessary to meet the Government�s target for reducing
    theft of and from vehicles by 30% over the 5 year
    period 1 April 1999 – 31 March 2004. This means
    that, on the basis of currently available recorded
    crime figures, we need to see a reduction from 1.1
    million to 783,000 offences � a fall of 317,000
    offences over the 5 years.

  2. This document sets out how we propose to deliver
    that reduction. It reflects contributions from the
    broad range of interests represented on the Action
    Team and the Task Groups that report to it. These
    include representatives from motor manufacturers
    and retailers, insurers, the salvage industry, car
    park owners and operators, consumers, the police
    and Government Departments. A list of Action Team
    members and the 13 Task Groups that report to the
    Action Team is attached at Annex A. I am grateful
    to all of them for making available their time and
    expertise. Our recommendations do, of course, reflect
    our own collective view rather than, necessarily,
    that of the various organisations from which we
    are drawn.

  3. The starting point for the Action Team�s work was
    the “14 Point Plan” for reducing vehicle
    crime (Annex B), which had been jointly developed
    by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO),
    the Home Office and the Department of the Environment,
    Transport and the Regions. This is reflected in
    many of our proposals that address the issues we
    regarded as the highest priority. The Action Team
    has yet to develop its views on regulating the export
    of vehicles, and the issue of external funding and,
    in particular, the “Michigan Scheme”.
    We have agreed not to proceed with work on the “pre-insurance
    inspection law”, because it was felt to be
    impractical, in the light of earlier unsuccessful
    attempts to introduce such a scheme.

  4. The Action Team commissioned each of the Task Groups
    to produce a plan setting out key issues and how
    they could deliver their contribution to the target.
    Their proposals are reflected in this strategy document.
    The message from the work of the Action Team and
    the Task Groups is that we can meet the target by:

    • improved security on new cars, benefiting from
      the widespread fitting of electronic immobilisers
      on new cars from around 1992 (and which became
      compulsory under EU law from 1998). Encouraging
      manufacturers to fit deadlocks and other security
      features on a wider range of models will help
      reduce “thefts from” as well as “thefts
      of” vehicles;

    • improving used car security to reduce substantially
      the number of “thefts of”. This can
      be achieved, in particular, by the widespread
      fitting of electronic immobilisers. Whether
      to legislate for this is a matter for Government
      but the Action Team believes this is the surest
      way to achieve our common objective. Encouraging
      retailers to promote, and consumers to buy,
      a package of security measures for used cars
      will also help reduce both “thefts from”
      as well as “thefts of”;

    • better policing and community responses which
      target prolific offenders, crime “hotspots”
      and the market for stolen goods. Measures to
      make it more difficult for vehicles or their
      contents to be stolen are not enough on their
      own. We also need to focus on potential offenders
      and areas of high crime. There is a large prize
      here in being able to tackle by these means
      the large number of “thefts from”
      which make up two-thirds of all recorded vehicle

    • improving car park security. About 22% of all
      vehicle crime takes place in car parks so successfully
      tackling this will make a sizeable contribution
      to meeting the target;

    • developing new procedures at the Driver and
      Vehicle Licensing Agency and working with the
      motor salvage industry to stop stolen vehicles
      being given the identity of other, legitimate,
      vehicles. Improving regulation of the salvage
      industry will also help to stop vehicles being
      stolen for spare parts. Reducing the market
      for stolen vehicles in this way will mean that
      they have less value to the thief who will in
      turn have less to gain by stealing them in the
      first place.


  5. The measure with the biggest single pay-off is
    the widespread fitting of electronic immobilisers
    on new and used cars � producing about half of the
    total target reduction required. The graph below
    at Figure 1 shows our estimate of the combined impact
    of the measures we propose, assuming the Government
    agrees to require electronic immobilisers to be
    fitted on used cars 7-10 years old and that this
    takes effect from April 2001 (i.e. to apply to cars
    registered during 1991-1994). But an important message
    � reflected in the membership of the Action Team
    and our approach to the task � is that we have to
    move forward on all fronts to tackle vehicle crime.
    We need a comprehensive and coherent approach.

Mike Wear, Chairman
Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team
September 1999

Vehicle crime figures for 1998/99 are provisional. Collated
statistics of notifiable offences for 1998/99 will be
published on 12 October 1999.
 An explanation of the crime reduction contribution
from each Task Group is available from the Home Office,
Crime Targets Task Force, at 50 Queen Anne�s Gate, London
SW1H 9AT (TEL: 020 7273 3351/3884).

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Last update:  September 2003

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