Police are issuing vehicles used by convicted drink drivers with ‘intelligence markers’ in a bid to catch reoffenders, a new investigation has unearthed.
According to Auto Express, previously disqualified motorists are having their cars electronically tagged depending on where they live – but not all forces have the tactic in place.
The motoring title said any car with a marker can be identified by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras to alert police to their activity, though forces assured the magazine that law-abiding motorists who purchase a ‘marked’ car shouldn’t be repeatedly stopped by patrol vehicles.
Catching reoffenders: Police ‘intelligence marker’ databases are linked-up to ANPR cameras that alert the authorities when a vehicle owned or previous used by a disqualified drink driver is on the move
Auto Express issued Freedom of Information requests to the 44 British police forces and found that only some are currently using the tactic to monitor vehicles known to be owned and used by existing and previously-convicted drink drivers.
That’s despite research saying that 12 per cent of motorists disqualified for driving for being over the limit go on to re-offend at a later day, with that figure rising to 30 per cent for high-risk individuals caught at the wheel with more than twice the legal alcohol level in their system.
These intelligence markers are not necessarily being used only to identify convicted drink drivers, with many adding vehicles to their database to monitor the movements of other criminals.
For instance, Cheshire police, the force with the most active markers in the country, said it had 1,041 vehicles on record with one of the tags.
It said it was using the tactic to create an ‘intelligence slide’ for each offender, collating their personal details and records of any vehicles registered to them at the time they lost their licence.
Records show that 57 per cent of all disqualified motorists in the area from 2014 to 2016 had their licences stripped for drink-drive convictions, which suggest that 600 – just over half – of the markers were linked to this type of offence.
Police forces with the most active intelligence markers
1. Cheshire 1,041*
2, Derbyshire 100
3. Dorset 92
4. Dyfed-Powys 88
5. West Yorkshire 80
6. Police Scotland 76
7. Northamptonshire 76**
8. Lincolnshire 69
9. Humberside 67
10. Surrey 48
*Relates to all disqualified drivers. **Relates to drink and drug driving offences
Source: Auto Express
Merseyside police also told Auto Express that ‘marker[s] will be attached once the individual is convicted and/or disqualified from driving’, while Cleveland police said just 9.5 per cent of its ‘vehicle of interest’ list is populated by vehicles attached to convicted drink drivers.
But some forces claim they’re not using the intelligence markers at all.
Metropolitan and City of London police forces, for example, said they don’t attach the markers to drink drive convicts’ cars, and have no active vehicles they were monitoring.
However, Met police subsequently clarified to the car title that it would create a marker if there were ‘credible intelligence’ someone was driving while banned.
Many other forces take the same approach, the investigation revealed, with West Yorkshire police having 80 drink-drive markers at the time of the request, though it said it was not monitoring all offenders in the region.
Forces said motorist who buy second-hand ‘marked’ cars won’t be stopped by the police as they constantly update their records with information from the DVLA
Responding to the investigation, Edmund King, president of the AA, said: ‘If the evidence suggests that a driver is likely to re-offend then they should be targeted in the same way that a known burglar may be targeted if there is a spate of burglaries.
‘The objective should be to stop re-offending.’
Police also said that drivers who may unknowingly buy a second-hand car that’s on the list have nothing to worry about.
Forces said they have processes in place to keep their intelligence marker systems updated – usually linking their database to Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) records – to identify when a ‘marked’ car is sold on to an innocent motorist.
This should mean that non-offending drivers will not be stopped by the police in regard to the vehicle having a record of being used by a disqualified motorist in the past.
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