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Councils fighting back after millions of drivers ‘game’ speed cameras to dodge fines


Councils are fighting back after it emerged millions of road users may be using illegal number plates to dodge speed camera fines. 

City of Wolverhampton Council’s taxi licencing and compliance officers have pledged to crackdown on false plates designed to trick ANPR cameras.

It has previously emerged that as many as one in 15 road users were using anti-ANPR technology on UK roads. 

With around 50 million holding a valid driving licence in the UK, this would suggest almost 3.3million were breaking the law. 

Councillor Craig Collingswood, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change stressed road users would be punished if they were caught out. 

He said: “Wolverhampton is leading the way as the first council investing in this state-of-the-art technology to deter and detect offenders. 

“Bus lanes are essential for the public transport network to operate efficiently and speed cameras help to keep the public safe from speeding vehicles and reduce the likelihood of a crash. 

“All motorists can expect to pay a fine if found to be using these illegal methods to avoid cameras and taxi drivers licensed by Wolverhampton may have their licence suspended or revoked.”

Illegal infrared reflective plates are also known as “ghost plates” as they evade detection on traditional cameras.

It means registration numbers will not be picked up on camera photos meaning road users could go undetected from paying motoring fines.

Under the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 it is illegal to apply or use material which makes the plate retroreflective.

Last year, Professor Fraser Sampson, Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, wrote to Transport Secretary Mark Harper to raise concerns around the issue. 

He said: “Wolverhampton is leading the way as the first council investing in this state-of-the-art technology to deter and detect offenders. 

“Bus lanes are essential for the public transport network to operate efficiently and speed cameras help to keep the public safe from speeding vehicles and reduce the likelihood of a crash. 

“All motorists can expect to pay a fine if found to be using these illegal methods to avoid cameras and taxi drivers licensed by Wolverhampton may have their licence suspended or revoked.”

Illegal infrared reflective plates are also known as “ghost plates” as they evade detection on traditional cameras.

He claimed the incentives for motorists to “game” the system had “never been greater” due to the rise in low emissions zones across the UK.

He explained: “Merely by applying reflective tape to distort part of a registration plate or purchasing stealth plates from online vendors, motorists can confuse and confound current number plate recognition technology and both of these are easily obtainable. 

“One recent estimate suggested that one in fifteen drivers may already be using anti-ANPR technology; it is reasonable to expect this conduct to increase as the reliance on ANPR for new traffic management schemes continues.”

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