Foreign vehicles are to be targeted in a crackdown across Sussex.
Hundreds of motorists are getting away with driving through speed cameras or red light cameras in the county because officers are unable to identify who is behind the wheel of their vehicles.
This is because the vehicles are carrying foreign number plates or the owners are not listed on the DVLA database.
British police forces do not have access to the motoring databases of foreign countries so are unable to identify who a driver is or where they come from using their vehicle’s numberplate if they do not catch them in the act.
In the same way, officers often cannot trace drivers who have bought vehicles after giving false details to the seller or who then failed to tell the DVLA that they had become the registered keeper.
It means that some motorists are wrongly avoiding prosecution after speeding or going through red lights. They could also be driving without insurance, tax, MOT or even a licence.
As those who commit motoring offences are statistically more likely to be involved in other crime, this could mean wanted criminals are avoiding detection.
Now, as part of an initiative named Operation Stingray, a hot list has been set up of unregistered and foreign-registered vehicles whose drivers have committed offences so that officers can be scrambled to stop them if they are seen.
If vehicles on the list pass a police patrol, their number plates will be scanned and officers will be alerted to stop them.
In the same way, if they pass a fixed police camera somewhere in the region, officers can be alerted to go to the area to intercept them.
PC Andrew Huggett said:
“In Sussex a small percentage of road offences that we detect have to be abandoned because we cannot identify the driver responsible. We have to ask ourselves if there is a darker reason for these drivers wanting to remain anonymous.
“As an example, our research has shown that one foreign-registered vehicle has been flashed by four speed cameras in Brighton and Hove in the last few months but as we have been unable to identify the driver, no one has been prosecuted.
“The hotlist will mean unregistered or foreign-registered vehicles that have got away with offences will be stopped and the drivers questioned.
“If the drivers deny being the owners, or are unable to tell us who is, then we could end up arresting them on suspicion of stealing the vehicles, confiscating the vehicles and trying to prosecute the drivers.
“If they admit to being the owners then we can update our records and in future identify them as being responsible for the vehicles – meaning they won’t get away with the driving offences again.”
Members of the public can help tackle vehicle crime in Sussex. If you see a vehicle being driven antisocially or suspiciously, text the details to 65999 or report it at www.operationcrackdown.co.uk.