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ANPR cameras at petrol stations could be used to catch uninsured drivers

Sade Laja Published 16 March 2012

ANPR cameras at petrol stations could be used to catch uninsured drivers

Plans being considered by Whitehall could see motorists with no tax or insurance blocked from getting petrol

The government is considering plans to cut off uninsured drivers' petrol supply by linking information using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).

The plans originate from a presentation given by accountancy firm Ernst & Young to officials at Number 10 and could see ANPR cameras and data held by the DVLA used to control petrol pumps.

Under the plans, ANPR cameras would be used to cross-reference number plates against the DVLA database, which would show whether a vehicle does not have insurance or tax. This information would then be fed through to the fuel pumps, which would restrict a motorist's fuel where necessary.

Graeme Swan, government partner at Ernst & Young, told Guardian Government Computing how the scheme could work in practice: "If you turn up to the fuel pump and you are not insured, in the first year you could get a yellow card. You can have £10 worth of petrol and it would cut off at that point, which would be your warning that the system thinks you are not insured," he said.

"So, they would either have to go away and get insured or live with the fact that for the rest of the year you can only ever put £10 in. And gradually, by year two you could say, 'We're going to reduce that to £5 now,' and then at some point in the future you say, 'I'm going to stop now, if you're not insured you don't get fuel.'"

According to Swan, the project could be implemented at a cost of £40m to £60m.

"The technology already exists to do this, because ANPR is in 80% of the forecourts already. That can be linked to the fuel pumps to do prevention quite easily because they do that to prevent drive-offs. The forecourt technology already exists and the DVLA technology already exists," he said.

Around £400m is currently spent on uninsured drivers. Swan said that the aim would be to get this figure as close to zero as possible, but he acknowledged that this would not be possible without the co-operation of every petrol station in the country. He also believes that the price of policy holders' car insurance would drop by around £40 per person if the plans are taken up by the government.

Swan couldn't say when the government would make a final decision on the plans as it was still at "policy formation stage", but said the plans could up and running within six months once given the green light.







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