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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 10:24 GMT
Launch of road tax sting
The cameras will be in vans in lay-bys and bridges
Motorists who have not paid their road tax are to be targeted by special cameras along roads in Northern Ireland.

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

The camera vans will operate from lay-bys and bridges by day and night and can detect vehicles travelling at speeds of more than 10mph.

Offending cars can be captured on film and their owners sent letters telling them to pay the back duty - or face prosecution.

Sam Foster:
Sam Foster: "No hiding place for offenders"

A roadside survey in August l999 showed an estimated one in 10 vehicles was unlicensed in Northern Ireland - three times the UK average.

The Stingray system already operates in parts of England and Scotland.

It was launched in Northern Ireland by the Department of the Environment on Wednesday.

Environment minister Sam Foster said the new cameras would "put road tax dodgers in the frame".

"Teams can move quickly from location to location, and those who previously took the risk of driving whilst unlicensed will soon realise that there is no hiding place," he said.


Brendan Magee, chief executive of Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland, said the cameras would be a "powerful deterrent."

In other parts of the UK, the cameras 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 when it was introduced in England, 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.

BBC NI's Paddy O'Flagherty
"Tax dodgers will not even be able to hide under cover of darkness"
See also:

20 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Huge cash boost for road and rail
20 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Transport 2010 at a glance
23 Oct 01 | Scotland
Police launch road tax sting
28 Sep 99 | Scotland
Tax 'hit squads' take to the road
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