Operation Reclaim 19 Oct 12:47

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson today, Wednesday 19 October launch a major crime busting day with officers around the capital cracking down on uninsured drivers.


One thousand MPS officers will be disrupting criminal activity by targeting uninsured drivers and seizing hundreds of vehicles in London.


And in a graphic warning to rogue motorists Commissioner Hogan-Howe and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, are using a pile of crushed cars to demonstrate the consequences of being uninsured.


In a coordinated series of operations across the capital, the MPS is targeting those drivers who are more likely to be involved in criminal activity, five times more likely to be involved in collisions and less likely to have vehicles in a road-worthy condition.


This action follows a commitment by Commissioner Hogan-Howe to target criminals and disrupt their activities.  


Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "This is the first of the operations I have asked for where officers across the Met will spend a dedicated day on a regular basis targeting uninsured drivers and those believed to be connected to crime.


“We know from experience approximately eight per cent of uninsured drivers are criminals. They’re also more likely to be involved in crashes and have unsafe cars so we’re taking this action to make London’s roads safer. 


"Driving without insurance is an offence and this operation will seize the cars of those who ignore the law, while reclaiming the roads for London's responsible and law abiding drivers."


The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "Operation Reclaim is designed - quite literally - to deliver a crushing blow against crime. Bernard Hogan-Howe demonstrated its success in Merseyside where crime fell by 40 per cent and this new push in London shows how serious we all are about making the city safer.


"Criminals are being given the opportunity to come and collect theirs cars and face arrest or simply watch their vehicles get crushed. I'm confident this day of action is one of many new effective measures the Commissioner is enforcing to bring down crime in the capital and he has my full support."


Leading today’s operation, Commander Steve Watson from the MPS added: “The majority of uninsured drivers are also habitual criminals. Those engaged in criminality will use vehicles to transport themselves across London and beyond to commit crime. They will also use vehicles to carry weapons, drugs and stolen property. This initiative brings our officers into contact with criminals and, through the robust enforcement of the law, disrupts their offending and enables us to bring them to book.


“Uninsured drivers are also five times more likely to be involved in collisions and so this initiative will also help to make the roads safer. Driving without insurance is an offence which actually affects everyone. The reality is that everyone who does insure their vehicles has to pay a significant premium to cater for those who can’t be bothered - this is simply unacceptable.


“Our message to uninsured drivers is to get it sorted immediately. Otherwise we will seize your vehicle and prosecute you - it’s just a matter of time.”


Today’s activities come under the MPS Operation Reclaim initiative which was originally launched in 2007. The operation will be a sustained campaign to target uninsured drivers to disrupt criminal activity and improve the safety of London’s roads.


Roadside check points using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) will be deployed at a number of locations, while officers across the capital will be actively pursuing uninsured drivers using fixed cameras or routine number plate checks.


Uninsured vehicles will be immediately seized and potentially destroyed, while offenders will be prosecuted. The penalty for driving a vehicle without insurance is six penalty points and a £200 fine, and can even lead to a driving ban. In 2010 the MPS seized 34,000 vehicles and prosecuted thousands of people.


To highlight the consequences of not insuring vehicles, a small selection of seized and crushed cars will be on display in Horse Guards Parade, Westminster this Wednesday afternoon.


Neil Drane, Head of Database Services at the Motor Insurers' Bureau [MIB] said: "It's great to see the Metropolitan Police using their resources to target uninsured drivers in London at this time.


"A campaign like this sends a strong message to unlawful motorists that uninsured driving will not be tolerated by making enforcement action highly visible. Police roadside enforcement remains a significant threat to offenders and has a massive impact in keeping our roads safe. 


"MIB is committed to supporting police forces across the UK and helping them to disrupt criminality on our roads."


Driving without insurance is an offence under the Road Traffic Act. Officers can use powers under Section 163 of the Road Traffic Act to stop vehicles to check whether they are being driven with the correct insurance and driving licence.


According to the Motors Insurers’ Bureau uninsured drivers increase other drivers’ insurance premiums by £30. They are also five times more likely to be involved in road collisions.


To find out more, or to report dangerous or illegal road users, visit www.met.police.uk/roadsafelondon


It is estimated there are 255,000 uninsured vehicles in London - approx 8.6% of all the cars in the capital. In the UK it is estimated there are 1.2 million uninsured vehicles out of 34 million vehicles.


In 2010 the MPS seized 34,000 vehicles of which 11,000 were destroyed.


According to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau:-


·        There are about 34 million vehicles on UK roads, of which four per cent are not insured at any one time.


·        One in three (34%) of all uninsured drivers are under the age of thirty.


·        Research by MIB found that one in ten of 18-34 year-old drivers are unaware that car insurance is a legal requirement.


·        The annual cost of uninsured driving - about £500 million - is paid by all honest motorists to a value of about £30 per insurance premium. About 23,000 people are injured and 160 people killed by uninsured and untraced drivers every year.


·        Research shows that uninsured drivers are five times more likely to be involved in road collisions, to fail to comply with other road traffic requirements and to be engaged in other criminal activity.


·        About 30,000 claims are made to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) each year for accidents caused by uninsured drivers and those that leave the scene.