A pioneering operation targeting uninsured drivers has proven such a success it is being rolled out by other forces across the country.
Over the past six months more than 2,500 vehicles across Hampshire and the Thames Valley have been identified as having no insurance by the Joint Roads Policing Unit.
Now, thanks to Operation Tutelage, 80 per cent of those drivers have properly insured their cars, making our roads safer for everyone.
The operation was set up by the unit in March 2017, in response to the growing problem of uninsured vehicles being used on the roads of Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
Between 1 March and 31 August this year, the forces wrote to the registered owners of 2,500 vehicles identified as having been driven without insurance.
The registered keepers of the vehicles were sent a letter encouraging them to check if their policy is correct and up-to-date.
All of the vehicles were checked again after three weeks and those that still did not have had valid insurance will be kept on a database which is accessible to roads policing officers.
Of the 2,500 letters sent in during this time period, 1,903 owners have now corrected, amended or taken out a new policy of insurance, which is a compliance rate of 80 per cent.
Police have seized 113 vehicles where the owner failed to comply and the remaining 484 vehicles are either waiting to be rechecked or set for more enforcement.
This operation has now been presented to officers across the country and is set to be adopted nationally by many other police forces.
The efficiency of this operation means that one officer can achieve far more than a single patrol officer looking at uninsured vehicles can in the same year.
Inspector Simon Hills, from the Joint Roads Policing Unit, which forms part of the Joint Operations Unit, said: “It is estimated that there are currently more than 48,000 uninsured vehicles across the five counties of Hampshire and Thames Valley and whilst the percentage of uninsured vehicles in our region is below the national average, it is still a cause for concern. “It is vital for us to reduce the number of uninsured vehicles on the roads. We know that uninsured vehicles account for a proportionately higher number of collisions, and are more likely to be linked with ‘fatal four’ offences, such as drink and drug driving. Uninsured vehicles also create a cost burden to those who buy insurance with an estimated £15 from each private car policy being used to pay for uninsured losses each year.
“It is vital for us to reduce the number of uninsured vehicles on the roads. We know that uninsured vehicles account for a proportionately higher number of collisions, and are more likely to be linked with ‘fatal four’ offences, such as drink and drug driving. Uninsured vehicles also create a cost burden to those who buy insurance with an estimated £15 from each private car policy being used to pay for uninsured losses each year.
“The 80 per cent compliance rate is very pleasing. We have taken a neighbourhood approach to engaging with the motoring community and this lighter touch engagement has led to some very positive feedback, including a lady who insured her daughter’s car by mistake instead of her own, a gentleman who insured his wife’s car twice but forgot to insure his own and a gentleman who insured his house twice but forgot to insure his car. We also had some lovely letters from people who had genuinely just forgotten to renew their policies and were so grateful that we had warned them but not prosecuted them.
With its remit to reduce uninsured driving, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) has worked closely with both Hampshire and TVP to develop the pilot and test the effectiveness of the operating model.
Inspector Hills added: “The Motor Insurers Bureau greatly assisted in Operation Tutelage and their partnership has been vital. They helped us to understand the problem and gave us the platform to present the operation at a national level which has resulted in the operation now being adopted as national practice.
“The Joint Operations Unit is a forward-thinking collaboration which has proved successful, Operation Tutelage joins that list of successes. I am immensely proud that this idea has not only worked, but has been so well received and is helping to make our roads safer for everyone.”
Neil Drane, from MIB, said: “We will continue to support this initiative in 2018 and will encourage other forces in the UK to adopt it.
“We can see that the letters being sent to vehicle owners from Hampshire and the Thames Valley are very effective.
“It is also an efficient use of manpower enabling both forces to maximise their resources to the benefit of their communities.”