The number of crimes relating to cloned or false number plates has soared by up to 179 per cent, according to recent police figures.
Some regions in the UK have experienced close to a 200 per cent rise of number plate cloning in just one year – but what is it and what are the consequences of having a cloned plate?
This is everything you need to know.
What is number plate cloning?
When purchasing a new licence plate, a vehicle user should be asked to prove their name and address, as well as their right to use the registration number.
If these checks are not made, it can result in the production of plates with licence numbers that the buyer has no right to use, leaving them free to drive a vehicle which bears the identity of someone else’s car.
A recent poll by Halfords found that 85 per cent of drivers don’t know which documents they need to provide when purchasing a number plate.
Most cloned number plates come from unregistered, illegitimate suppliers, who not only ignore the regulations regarding the verification of entitlement, but also bypass the associated quality standards.
Rise in cloning
Halfords contacted 49 of the UK’s police forces and found that incidents of number plate crime rose by 18 per cent between 2016 and 2017.
Several areas in the UK showed steep rises in number plate crime, with Warwickshire, Dorset, Gwent and Northumbria being the highest, increasing by 179 per cent, 161 per cent, 96 per cent, and 94 per cent, respectively.
What are the consequences of number plate cloning?
The consequences of number plate cloning include speeding tickets, parking fines and unpaid toll bills. Motorists will also need to liaise with the DVLA to obtain a new number plate.
The consequences of number plate cloning include speeding tickets, parking fines and unpaid toll bills (Photo: Shutterstock)
Even if motorists attempt to buy a genuine replacement number plate for their own vehicle, they run the risk of receiving a £1,000 fine if that number plate does not conform to the relevant standards.
Rob Laugharne, legal expert and Group Legal Director of Hills, the UK’s market leader in supply of legal number plates said, “Cloning of number plates is a major problem in the UK. Unfortunately under current regulations it is incredibly easy for criminals to clone plates.
“This obviously hinders the police in preventing and reducing crime, but it can also have some very distressing consequences for the innocent victims.”
How can I avoid or prevent number plate cloning?
These are the top tips to help motorists avoid number plate fraud, according to Halfords:Always purchase your number plates from a registered supplier Ensure you are asked to prove your name, your address and your right to use the registration number when you ask for a new number plate to be made
What should I do if I think I’m a victim of number plate cloning?
If you suspect that you are a victim of number plate cloning you should contact the police and DVLA immediately and, when purchasing a new plate, make sure you get it made by a registered and reputable company.