VOL. NO: 49      DATE:
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A special Column for community and Police issues.

1320 uninsured cars off our roads

1320 uninsured cars taken off the road by the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London. 

Uninsured drivers are the drivers most likely to be involved in a hit and run. This is what recent research has found, and it is for this reason that the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London (TfL) have joined forces in a colossal clampdown on uninsured drivers in London. 

'Operation Foist' launched on 23rd October 2006 has seen officers from the Met's Traffic Unit seize 1320 uninsured cars in just under four weeks - all in the boroughs of Hackney, Haringey and Newham. 

Using the crime fighting technology of Automatic Number Plate Recognition, officers from the Traffic Unit have been dealing with drivers who continue to break the law and push up the prices of other people's insurance. 

Of the 1320 cars seized, Traffic officers have seized two Porsches, valued in excess of 150K, a BMW Z4 and a Hummer. Arrests have also been made, for a variety of offences including possession of Class A drugs - one car contained half a kilo of crack cocaine and 12,000 in cash. A number of robbery suspects were also arrested (including a man wanted for robbery since 2005). 

Since legislation came in in July 2005, police have been using their powers to seize uninsured cars, and depending on whether the owner can present insurance or not - sell on the cars or crush them. 

To demonstrate the powers available to them - and the work they have been doing in Hackney, Haringey and Newham - Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, head of Central Operations for the Metropolitan Police and Jenny Jones, Road Safety Ambassador to the Mayor will be 'pushing the button' on a car crusher in Hackney. Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said, "Uninsured drivers are a danger to the roads. We will use every power available to us to stop these people making London's roads dangerous. I am only too aware of how fail to stop collisions can affect people. By seizing these vehicles we are making a difference to people's lives, and taking criminals off London's roads." Chris Lines, Head of the London Road Safety Unit, TfL, said: "People driving vehicles which are uninsured are far more likely to be a danger to others and we are working with the police to get them off the road. 

"It is a shocking statistic that a quarter of motorists fail to stop after a collision. Tackling people driving uninsured vehicles will help to improve safety on the roads." 

Jenny Jones, Road Safety Ambassador for the Mayor said, "I am more than happy to crush a few illegal cars if that helps to end the terrible tragedy of people being left for dead by drivers who believe they are beyond the law. We can only end the cowardly crime of hit and run driving, by destroying the belief of many drivers that they can break the rules and get away with it. New laws and new technology are giving us the ability to end the scandalous situation in London where over eighty people a week being injured in collisions involving hit and run drivers." 

Jon Verlander, the father of Amy Verlander who was knocked down on Saturday 2nd September 2006 - by an uninsured driver who failed to stop said, "People do not understand the consequences of having uninsured drivers on London's roads. Cars are cheaper than insurance and this means that people who have a car on their drive will drive it, without any sense of responsibility. If only people could see what the consequences can be in the cold of light of day. It's just so dangerous. 

Anyone who has been through what my daughter Amy has been through will understand. My only wish is that everyone realises how hazardous it is, without having the experiences that my family has had to face". 

Every day across London the Met's Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) teams are helping to fight and disrupt criminals using London's road networks. 

An ANPR unit consists of a van containing the computer technology and camera equipment that, when it reads the vehicle registration mark (VRM) converts the image in to data which is then compared against databases - such as the Police National Computer. If a match (hit) occurs then the officers attached to the unit, drawn from the Traffic OCU, will take appropriate action. 

All cars are crushed by Sims Groups UK Ltd, part of the world's largest metal recycler, who are contracted by MPA. The company first depolutes the vehicles before they are crushed. The metal is then recycled to be used to make anything from drinks cans to new cars.


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