Show Plates Are About to Change

Since 2001, the production and distribution of vehicle number plates have been strictly regulated by law. This includes specific guidelines on character font, color, spacing, and materials. Suppliers are required to verify proof of identity and entitlement to the registration number, and they must be registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Vehicle flag magnet. However, there have been notable loopholes in the legislation, particularly in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and the ability to supply non-conforming number plates under the guise of “show plates” (not for public highway use).

Closing the Loopholes

The current legislation does not apply to Northern Ireland or Scotland, allowing suppliers in these regions to sell non-compliant number plates online. Additionally, “show plates” have been used as a workaround to bypass regulations. These loopholes are about to be closed by extending the legislation to Northern Ireland and Scotland and by requiring show plates to be conspicuously marked. This will make it easier to identify and penalize those using show plates on public roads.

The DVLA has published a consultation paper on their website, inviting feedback on the proposed changes. Interested parties can respond to the proposals outlined in the paper.

The Role of ANPR in Law Enforcement
The introduction of these new measures is highly likely, given the recent success of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition System (ANPR) in tracking suspected terrorists. ANPR has proven to be a powerful tool in the fight against terrorism and in the detection of vehicles that are not taxed or insured.

Interesting Statistics
ANPR Effectiveness: According to the UK Home Office, ANPR technology has been instrumental in solving 1,800 cases of serious crime annually (source).
Uninsured Vehicles: The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) estimates that there are around 1 million uninsured drivers on UK roads, costing law-abiding motorists an extra £30 on their annual premiums (source).
Tax Evasion: The DVLA reported that in 2020, over 634,000 vehicles were caught without road tax, resulting in fines and penalties (source).

The impending changes to the legislation governing number plates are a significant step towards closing existing loopholes and enhancing road safety. By extending the regulations to Northern Ireland and Scotland and marking show plates conspicuously, authorities aim to make it easier to enforce compliance and improve the effectiveness of ANPR systems in law enforcement.


Leave a Comment