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Thursday, 11 October, 2001, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
Cameras target road tax dodgers
jam
The cameras will be hidden in vans in lay-bys and on bridges
Motorists who have not paid their road tax are to be targeted by special cameras along UK roads.

The 'Stingray' cameras will read number plates of passing motorists and check them against DVLA records to see if the vehicle excise duty is up to date.

The cameras will be fitted in vans, which will operate from lay-bys and bridges and be able to catch offenders, even when travelling at more than 100mph.


Honest motorists are fed up with seeing the hard core who continually evade paying their road tax

David Jamieson, Transport Minister

Those caught will be sent letters asking them to pay the back duty - or face prosecution.

Road tax cheats will face a fine of up to 1,000 for a car or motorcycle, and up to 23,000 for a heavy goods vehicle - plus back duty and costs.

The head of enforcement at the DVLA, Terry Bernard, said over a million people do not pay their road tax, costing the country an estimated 190m a year.

He said the cameras were good enough to read number plates at night, but added that vehicles would not be filmed secretly.

"We are not being covert about it," he said.

Profit

"The signs will be out and the vans will be decked out in our livery so there will be no mistaking them.

"The cameras will be self finacing and probably bring in a bit of a profit as well," he added.

Transport Minister David Jamieson is to launch the nationwide initiative and he said: "Honest motorists are fed up with seeing the hard core who continually evade paying their road tax.

"Camera technology will be brought to bear in targeting these evaders, who will quickly realise that the penalties for evasion are much greater than the cost of a vehicle excise licence."

'Wider problem'

The new cameras will act in tandem with the normal reporting of car tax dodgers by the police, traffic wardens and wheel clamping units.

The system was welcomed by the AA, but it warned that still more needed to be done to catch the cheats.

The organisation said drivers of untaxed cars tended not to have insurance cover or an MOT certificate and it called for the checking system to be updated.

Paul Watters, the AA's head of roads and transport, said: "While we support the scheme, we are concerned that despite the best intentions of the authorities, some motorists slip through the net, because of a number of weaknesses in the way we tax, transfer, MOT and insure our vehicles.

"We are calling for these systems to be modernised and linked otherwise people may still evade."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"The government estimate that car tax dodging is costing them $180 million a year"
Richard Freeman of the AA
"Hopefully cameras will be just another weapon in the armoury"
Terry Bernard, Head of Enforcement, DVLA
"We are not being convert about this"
See also:

28 Jul 00 | UK
London drivers face car tax
26 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Congestion charging faces jam
20 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Huge cash boost for road and rail
20 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Transport 2010 at a glance
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