Uninsured vehicles campaign heralded by police

Inspector Simon Hills of the Joint Roads Policing Unit. Photo: Thames Valley Police NNL-171018-104427001
Inspector Simon Hills of the Joint Roads Policing Unit. Photo: Thames Valley Police NNL-171018-104427001

A pioneering operation targeting uninsured vehicles was heralded by the police as 80 per cent of those vehicles have now been insured.

Operation Tutelage, carried out by the Joint Roads Policing Unit in Thames Valley and Hampshire, resulted in more than 2,500 vehicles being identified as having no insurance over the past six months.

Inspector Simon Hills, from the Joint Roads Policing Unit, said: “The Joint Operations Unit is a forward-thinking collaboration which has proven successful. Operation Tutelage joins that list of successes. I am immensely proud that this idea has not only worked, but has been so well received and is helping to make our roads safer for everyone.”

“It is estimated that there are currently more than 48,000 uninsured vehicles across the five counties of Hampshire and Thames Valley and whilst the percentage of uninsured vehicles in our region is below the national average, it is still a cause for concern.

“It is vital for us to reduce the number of uninsured vehicles on the roads.

“We know that uninsured vehicles account for a proportionately higher number of collisions, and are more likely to be linked with ‘fatal four’ offences, such as drink and drug driving.

“Uninsured vehicles also create a cost burden to those who buy insurance with an estimated £15 from each private car policy being used to pay for uninsured losses each year.

“The 80 per cent compliance rate is very pleasing.

“We have taken a neighbourhood approach to engaging with the motoring community and this lighter touch engagement has led to some very positive feedback, including a lady who insured her daughter’s car by mistake instead of her own, a gentleman who insured his wife’s car twice but forgot to insure his own and a gentleman who insured his house twice but forgot to insure his car.

“We also had some lovely letters from people who had genuinely just forgotten to renew their policies and were so grateful that we had warned them but not prosecuted them.”

The operation was set up in March in response to the growing problem of uninsured vehicles being used on the roads of Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire.

Between March 1, and August 31, the forces wrote to the registered owners of 2,500 vehicles identified as having been driven without insurance.

The registered keepers of the vehicles were sent a letter encouraging them to check if their policy is correct and up-to-date.

All of the vehicles were checked again after three weeks and those that still did not have valid insurance will be kept on a database which is accessible to roads policing officers.

Of the 2,500 letters sent in during this time period, 1,903 owners have now corrected, amended or taken out a new policy of insurance, which is a compliance rate of 80 per cent.

Police have seized 113 vehicles where the owner failed to comply and the remaining 484 vehicles are either waiting to be rechecked or set for more enforcement.

This operation has now been presented to officers across the country and is set to be adopted nationally by many other police forces.

With its remit to reduce uninsured driving, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) has worked closely with both TVP and Hampshire to develop the pilot and test the effectiveness of the operating model.

MIB head of enforcement Neil Drane said: “We will continue to support this initiative in 2018 and will encourage other forces in the UK to adopt it.

“We can see that the letters being sent to vehicle owners from TVP and Hampshire are very effective.

“It is also an efficient use of manpower enabling both forces to maximise their resources to the benefit of their communities.”

The efficiency of this operation means that one officer can achieve far more than a single patrol officer looking at uninsured vehicles in the same year.

Insp Hills said: “MIB has greatly assisted in Operation Tutelage and their partnership has been vital.

“MIB helped us to understand the problem and gave us the platform to present the operation at a national level which has resulted in the operation now being adopted as national practice.”