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Why motorists are getting fines for crimes they did not commit



Thousands of number plates are being cloned by criminals, with innocent drivers receiving fines for offences they did not commit.

A senior police official says cloned plates are being used for ram raids and other illegal activities – with fraudsters concealing their identity while racking up speeding fines and congestion charges.

In other cases, criminals using stolen number plates have filled up cars with petrol and driven off without paying.

David Jamieson, the police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands, said: “People stealing number plates is a very considerable problem.

“We’re seeing thousands of plates being stolen just in the West Midlands – Merseyside, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire are seeing huge rises as well.”

He is urging car manufacturers to “play a part” in making in more difficult for criminals to clone plates – and says it is “ludicrous” that vehicles are still being made where plates can pulled off or unscrewed with ease.

One police official believes carmakers must do more to stop plates being cloned
One police official believes carmakers must do more to stop plates being cloned

Adam Shirley, from Farnborough, has received speeding tickets, parking fines and unpaid toll bills totalling more than £2,000.

He believes his plates were cloned after criminals spotted a picture of his car on the internet, which he had bought through an online dealership.

“The police told me the most likely scenario was that they stole a car, Googled the same make and colour of that car, and my licence plate would have then appeared in the search results,” Mr Shirley explained.

“Then, they just copied the plate and put it on their vehicle… it seems a really easy thing to do.”

Mr Shirley claims he has received fines about once a fortnight for the past six months, leaving him with no choice but to contest the letters and point out differences between his car and the one used by the criminals.

He added: “It took the DVLA about three months to issue me a new licence plate and I had to pay to get them to issue it. There has not been a huge amount of help.

“The DVLA and the police need to enforce the law when it comes to printing licence plates.”

Adam Shirley has received fines of more than £2,000 after his number plate was cloned
Adam Shirley has received fines of more than £2,000 after his number plate was cloned

In another case, Matthew Shaw said he started getting fines linked to his private number plate – months after his car was written off in an accident.

He believed that his car was being scrapped, but it seems his private plates were sold along with the wrecked vehicle.

“The police did the best they could do, but it took about six months to get the car off the road. It was a massive inconvenience – I had to take time off work to appeal all the fines.

“The entire situation was really frustrating – salvagers and insurers just don’t want to know. Unfortunately, you’re left on your own to sort it out, there’s no one there to help you. It’s nuts.”

It is hard to know exactly how widespread the problem of cloned plates is. Anyone who suspects their vehicle’s number plates have been cloned is advised to contact the police, the organisations sending fines, and the DVLA.

However, Commissioner Jamieson warned: “The number of police officers we have, especially on car patrol, has reduced and you cannot do everything.”

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