Yorkshire police battle epidemic of uninsured vehicles on roads

Calls have been made for uninsured drivers to receive harsher penalties after figures showed Yorkshire’s largest police force seized more than 13,500 vehicles in the last three years.

New figures revealed the number of uninsured drivers on the roads

West Yorkshire Police took 4,125 cars, vans, motorcycles and heavy vehicles off the roads in 2014-15 – the highest figure for any force outside the Metropolitan Police.

The total number of uninsured vehicles seized in the last three years was 13,527 , of which almost half were either sold at auction or crushed and sold for scrap, generating about £1.81 million for the force.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Among the cars seized in the last three years were five Porsches, two Bentleys and more than 360 BMWs.

Those who are caught driving without the necessary cover face a fixed penalty of £300 and six points on their licence.

However, the number of people stopped by West Yorkshire Police for having no insurance has shown little sign of decline and motoring organisation the AA said the punishments are not severe enough to act as a deterrent.

Spokesman Ian Crowder said: “Uninsured drivers are typically young men, often unemployed, often with a string of motoring convictions and driving bans and so are uninsurable anyway.

“They are then stopped and the car confiscated. They then opt to go to court rather than pay a fixed penalty and the average fine meted out is less than £300, which is a scandal when the maximum available is £5,000.

“The fines are means tested, unlike a fixed penalty, and often the offender is permitted to pay by instalments. So they pay one instalment and then disappear and don’t pay the rest.

“It’s difficult to know what to do. Putting them in prisons isn’t necessarily going to help, but the sentencing often doesn’t reflect the seriousness of the crime and the AA thinks the penalties are insufficient.”

The AA said uninsured driving adds around £33 to every policy bought by insured drivers. Londoners are the worst affected, with annual premiums averaging £936 in some parts of the capital.

Bradford is the eighth most expensive place in the country to insure a car, with average premiums of £661.

Drivers who have their cars seized by police can get them back if they can prove that they have the necessary documents and pay the police costs of removing and impounding them.

Temporary Chief Superintendent Pat Casserly, of West Yorkshire Police’s protective services, said: “Uninsured drivers are a major concern for law-abiding motorists in West Yorkshire and anyone caught using an uninsured vehicle can expect to have it seized and a large fine, with the added possibility of a court appearance. Everyone thinks they have the freedom of the road, but the reality is that all motorists have a legal, as well as a moral responsibility to make sure they are insured.”

According to figures obtained by Churchill Insurance, police seized nearly 28,000 uninsured cars last year.

They included one which was later sold for £217,933 at auction.

Steve Barrett, head of car insurance at Churchill, said: “We need an urgent examination of the penalties for uninsured motoring, introducing sentences that are a real deterrent and that will keep these irresponsible motorists off the road.”