3. Better enforcement



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Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team

3: Better enforcement

1. Better enforcement is where the police can make
it more difficult for offenders to commit crimes or
to avoid detection. This has particular relevance to
tackling the large number of “thefts from”
offences (two-thirds of the total recorded vehicle crime
figures) where there is limited scope for using physical
measures to make it more difficult to steal from cars.

2. The starting point is to raise the profile of tackling
vehicle crime within the Police Service so that all
forces give it the same high priority. The Home Secretary
wrote on 15 June to all police forces and police authorities
making clear that he wants to see challenging vehicle
crime targets in every police area. The force target
will act as a focus for the work not only of the police
but also their local crime and disorder partners (to
whom the letter was also sent). Partnerships need to
be clear how their work, and their local targets, come
together to deliver the force targets. We understand
from the Home Office that vehicle crime has been identified
as a key problem in many partnership audits of crime
and disorder and that many have developed clear strategies
for dealing with it which involve not just the police
but all agencies with a contribution to make.

Partnership strategies for reducing
vehicle crime

Cherwell Community Safety Strategy has a target
to reduce vehicle crime by 30% over 5 years. Priority
actions for the first year include: 

  • Targeting known offenders; 

  • Taking action to reduce crime at “hot-spots”; 

  • Encouraging car park providers to achieve
    “Secured Car Parks” status; 

  • Raising public awareness of security issues
    and encouraging the public to report vehicle
    crime through the “Stop Motor crime And
    Ring Today” (SMART) campaign.

Leeds Community Safety Strategy aims to reduce vehicle
crime by raising driver awareness of vehicle crime
reduction measures, targeting vehicle crime “hot-spots”
and repeat offenders and promoting the Secured Car
Parks scheme. 

Newham Community Safety Strategy aims to reduce
vehicle crime by measures such as: 

  • Targeting prominent offenders; 

  • Developing the use of Automatic Number Plate
    Readers and CCTV to identify/locate suspect

  • Making car parking places more secure; 

  • Informing users about high risk car parking
    places and preventative measures.

3. But target setting on its own is not enough. The
Police Service needs to identify good practice and then
spread the messages to all forces so that the level
of performance of all is raised to that of the best.
One of the key recommendations of the recent HM Inspectorate
of Constabulary�s Thematic Report on Roads Policing
was that forces should develop an “intelligence-led”
model of roads policing which brought together operations
against motoring offences, vehicle crime and crime generally.
Some forces are already adopting this model to good
effect and the Inspectorate will be making sure this
message gets home in force inspections when they follow
up thematic recommendations.

4. Identifying and spreading good practice is also
the work of the Action Team�s Task Group on Police Best
Practice. This Group promotes “intelligence � led”
approaches to dealing with vehicle crime by, for example,
targeting prolific offenders and focussing effort on
vehicle crime “hotspots”. Tackling the market
for stolen goods is another potentially fruitful area.
As well as disrupting the activities of handlers of
stolen goods, this brings in better regulation of the
salvage industry and revised procedures at the Driver
and Vehicle Licensing Agency. These are described in
Chapter 6, and might be supported by changes
in the law to protect manufacturers� marks on component
parts. The Group also promotes closer working arrangements
with local authority community safety officers (for
example in the use of CCTV).

5. A proposal for a training package is being developed
to “train the trainers” to deliver a vehicle
crime reduction training day to police and Community
Safety Officers. This will provide a means by which
key messages can be got across to police officers.

6. Better enforcement needs better information to inform
decisions about the best strategies for reducing vehicle
crime. There are gaps in the information available at
a national level about the nature and type of vehicle
crime, including such issues as location, time of day/night,
method used to gain entry and security features present.
The Home Office Policing and Reducing Crime Unit (PRCU)
are addressing this, and are developing a study, with
a sample of police forces, to collect and analyse available
information. We have also commissioned from PRCU research
about effective strategies for tackling vehicle crime.
Their findings (which are being published alongside
this strategy document) will support the development
of local strategies by police and partnerships.

7. Better enforcement relies on information provided
to the police being as accurate and up to date as possible.
The DVLA is already taking tougher action to enforce
payment of Vehicle Excise duty, as well as enforcing
the Statutory Off Road Notification, and Dual Notification
requirements. These have all helped to improve the accuracy
of the vehicle records.

DVLA enforcement of Vehicle Excise

In 1998/99 DVLA successfully penalised 475,000
road tax dodgers, of which 256,000 were prosecuted,
the remainder paying out of court settlements.
�73 million was recovered from this and associated
enforcement action. 

209,000 keepers have re-licensed their vehicles
as a result of publicity surrounding wheel clamping
since its introduction in August 1997. This has
helped improve the accuracy of the vehicle records
and enabled a further 23 million to be recovered.
The scheme is now being operated nationwide.

8. Better enforcement also needs better information
provided to police officers at the roadside. Chapter
5 provides some detail about modernising information
systems. The key issue for the police is to have as
much information readily available as possible so that
officers are in the best position to identify breaches
of the law and take appropriate action. Information
from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency�s (DVLA)
vehicle register is already held on the Police National
Computer but a change in the law should be made at the
earliest opportunity to allow the police immediate access
to DVLA�s driver records on a 24 hour basis. At present
a telephone service is available during working hours
for urgent cases, but it can take up to a week for information
to reach the police in other cases.

The use of ANPR to identify and
catch criminals

The vehicle number plate reading system, known
as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR),
developed and installed by the City of London
Police is consistently identifying criminals who
enter the Square Mile. 

In the year ending March 1999 the system identified
183 stolen vehicles and the police made 260 arrests. 

9. We welcome the action being taken to provide the
police with ready access at the roadside to computerised
MOT records and a Motor Insurance Database, being established
by the motor insurance industry. Taken together, these
changes will significantly improve the information available
to the police at the roadside and enhance their ability
to enforce motoring laws and make better links between
these and vehicle and other crime.

Compulsory carrying of driving licences, insurance
certificates and MOTs

10. The Action Team concluded that, in relation to
insurance and MOT certificates, developments in hand
meant there was no need to require drivers to carry
these documents. The Motor Insurance Database would
be operational in 2001 and the computerised record of
MOTs in 2002/3. These will provide the necessary information
to police officers at the roadside and legislation will
not provide an earlier solution.

11. In relation to compulsory carrying of driving licences,
the key issue was whether the benefits to the police,
of enhanced operational effectiveness and improved efficiency,
could be achieved through other means. The Action Team
agreed that the law should be changed to enable the
police to have DVLA�s driver records on the Police National
Computer. This would be a significant advance. However,
the police placed particular weight on the ability to
check identity at the roadside, making use of photographs
on photocard licences. This benefit would be enhanced
if paper driving licences were recalled and replaced
with photocard licences. The Action Team noted that
the Public Safety Radio Communications Project contained
a capability of transmitting photographs to terminals
in police cars and concluded that this would appear
to offer the best way forward. Further work will be
needed to assess the practicalities of the technology
but on the basis of information currently available,
the case for the compulsory carrying of driving licences
has not yet been made.

Targeted policing 

Targeted policing aims to improve the way in
which police tackle crime; 

Nine forces have been awarded nearly �9 million
under the Government�s Crime Reduction programme
to tackle local crime hotspots; 

The Metropolitan Police, in partnership with
the London Boroughs of Islington, Camden and Southwark,
has been awarded nearly �700,000 towards a project
(Operation Arrow) targeting youth autocrime in
hotspots in the three boroughs.

4: Safer environment

“Not one crime has occurred in 4 park and
ride car parks in the Maidstone area in the year since
they achieved Award status.”

1. As well as making vehicles harder to steal, and
to steal from, making the locations in which they are
parked more secure will also help reduce vehicle crime.
It will also help reduce the fear of crime. The 1998
British Crime Survey showed that about 22% of vehicle
crime takes place in car parks so improving car park
security will make a significant contribution to meeting
the target.

2. The Association of Chief Police Officers Secured
Car Park scheme has proved its effectiveness in substantially
reducing car crime, with a sample showing average reductions
of about 70%.

“about 22% of vehicle crime takes place in
car parks”

3. The scheme provides for car park owners and operators
to obtain an award (which is subject to annual re-inspection)
where they can show they meet certain security and safety
standards. These include good design layout, good surveillance
(by use of CCTV and/or regular staff patrols) good quality
lighting, provision of help points and controlled pedestrian
and vehicle entry and exit points. Every car park should
be capable of meeting these standards. Even older car
parks, where it is not possible or practical to overcome
design faults, can look at their management practices
and use of technology (for example number and frequency
of staff patrols and use of CCTV) to overcome design

“Wood Green Shopping City reduced
vehicle crime by 86% in 1998 after it achieved “secured”

4. There is a target of achieving 2000 secure car parks
by the end of the year 2000. Progress so far has been
good, with 474 car parks with new award status at the
end of August. But we want to see quicker progress and
the building blocks are in place to achieve this.

Secured Car Parks in Kent 

Kent County Constabulary is committed to introducing
Secured Car Parks across the whole police area.
As a result the force has almost doubled its target
for Award car parks set by ACPO. 

Not one crime has occurred in 4 park and ride
car parks in the Maidstone area in the year since
they achieved Award status. 

The Bluewater car park has been open for 5 months
and around 3.2 million cars have visited the site
in this period. There have been just 7 vehicles
stolen and 32 thefts from vehicles in this time.

Secured Car Parks work in reducing

Wood Green Shopping City reduced vehicle crime
by 86% in 1998 after it achieved “secured”
status compared to the previous year. 

Midland Mainline Railway Stations have shown
substantial reductions in vehicle crime over the
same period (Chesterfield 96%, Derby 80% and Kettering
50%) � and that�s despite a 12% increase in usage; 

Ipswich Park and Ride has had no vehicle crime
reported in its first year of operation.

5. CCTV is one of the ways in which technology can
be used to bring a car park�s security up to date. It
acts as a deterrent, helps the police bring offenders
to justice and reduces people�s fear of crime. It is
also one of the most expensive items in upgrading car
park security. The Action Team therefore very much welcomes
the additional funding (�150 million over 3 years) the
Government has made available for closed � circuit television
and the infrastructure to make it work effectively.
We understand that, whilst the funding will be allocated
through a competitive bidding process, it is expected
that a significant proportion of the money will go towards
improving car park security. This will give a major
boost to the Secured Car Park scheme.

“There is a target of achieving 2000
secure car parks by the end of the year 2000”

6. The Home Office Minister of State has written to local
authorities (who own many of the car parks in the country)
NHS Trusts, train operating companies, universities and
major retailers drawing attention to benefits of the scheme
and urging renewed commitment. Again, we expect this will
boost the scheme and responses have provided good leads
to follow up.

    “CCTV helps the police bring offenders to justice
    and reduces people’s fear of crime”

7. The Association of Chief Police Officers has agreed
a breakdown of the 2000 target for each police force.
More progress has been made in some force areas than
others and ACPO has written to all forces encouraging
them to promote the scheme with car park owners and

8. The Association of British Insurers has recently
extended its sponsorship of the Regional Development
Managers who work with the police and actively promote
the scheme on the ground. They also follow up leads
such as those flowing from the Home Office Minister
of State�s letter. This brings the total sponsorship
to �660,000 over 4 years and enables the vital role
of the Regional Development Managers to continue.

9. Plans are in hand to publish a Secured Car Parks
Directory, initially in the North-West, to make information
about the location of “secured” car parks
more readily available. Local authorities are also being
encouraged to erect road signs with a distinctive logo
so that consumers may identify car parks with “secured”
status more readily and exercise choice in where they
park. All this could usefully be supported by a wider
publicity campaign (see Chapter 7).

“Woodhouse Lane car park in Leeds
generated an extra �160,000 a year in fees from contract

10. Whilst the main focus of the Secured Car Parks
scheme is on preventing theft of and from cars, the
scheme can be used to provide greater protection for
motorcycles (by, for example providing secure anchorage
points). Motorcycles are particularly vulnerable to
theft, not least because they are far more transportable
than cars, and a representative of motorcycle users
has joined the Task Group overseeing the scheme to help
ensure motorcycle interests are not overlooked.

Secured Car Parks bring other

Whilst initial costs may be incurred in bringing
car parks up to secured status, there are also
benefits. Usage and revenue can increase. For

Woodhouse Lane car park in Leeds generated an
extra �160,000 a year in fees from contract parking
directly as a result of work undertaken to achieve
award status; 

Wood Green Shopping City increased usage and
revenue by 7% – 10%; 

Luton Bus Station increased usage and revenue
by 65%.

5: Modernising
information systems

1. Good information systems are a vital ingredient
of the overall package of measures to reduce vehicle
crime. They allow better and quicker sharing of information
which will make life much more difficult for the thief.
But they will only be as good as the data they hold.
As a starting point, the Action Team also noted the
work in hand (referred to in Chapter 3) to improve further
the accuracy of the DVLA�s vehicle record by tougher
enforcement of Vehicle Excise Duty, the requirement
to make Statutory Off-Road Notifications (SORN) and
Dual Notification (DN) by both buyer and seller of a
change in keepership. The Action Team also looked at
developing more effective procedures by raising the
status of the Vehicle Registration Document and making
better links with a more regulated salvage industry
� described in Chapter 6.

“The key issue is to bring together different
sources of information”

2. But accurate data is only part of the story. The
key issue is to bring together different sources of
information so that, subject to the requirements of
data protection legislation, key stakeholders have the
information they require to deliver their contribution
to reducing vehicle crime. A number of projects are
underway which will help:

  • the Motor Industry Anti-Fraud and Theft Register
    (MIAFTR) computerised database holds information
    about insured vehicles which are stolen or subject
    to insurance write-offs. At present, there is no
    link between this database and DVLA (which has to
    rely on a more limited paper based system for information).
    The DVLA expect to be able to access MIAFTR data
    by the end of this year, and a direct link between
    MIAFTR and DVLA should become operational next year.
    Access to the MIAFTR data will enable the DVLA to
    introduce a telephone “hotline” service
    to the public (expected by the end of this year),
    providing information on seriously damaged cars.
    A link to the MIAFTR database will lead to information
    about total loss vehicles being notified to the
    DVLA more quickly and reliably. The effectiveness
    of MIAFTR in supplying information to DVLA would
    be increased if its coverage extended to fleet and
    other vehicles where owners carry their own uninsured
    losses. Discussions will be opened with the British
    Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association and others
    about this;

  • The Motor Insurance Database, developed by the
    motor insurance industry, will hold details of all
    insurance policies on individually insured vehicles.
    This will be operational in 2001 and will link directly
    into the Police National Computer (PNC) giving the
    police ready access at the roadside to insurance
    details. This will enable uninsured drivers to be
    more easily identified;

  • The MOT record is in the process of being computerised
    and is expected to be fully operational in 2002/3.
    MOT details will be available via the Police National
    Computer and will help in the same way as the Motor
    Insurance Database.

3. Giving the police direct access via the Police National
Computer to DVLA�s driver record would significantly
improve the police�s ability to enforce motoring laws
and again investigate links between breaches of these
laws and vehicle and other crime. There are no technical
difficulties in this but a change in the law is needed
and we recommend this should be achieved at the earliest

“A link to the MIAFTR database will
lead to information about total loss vehicles being
notified to the DVLA more quickly and reliably”

4. The Action Team is setting up a separate Task Group
to look for appropriate linkages between different information
systems to ensure that the law enforcement effort is
fully supported by ready access to all relevant sources
of information.

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Last update:  September 2003

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