Tax discs scrapped: penalty fears for innocent drivers

Innocent drivers could face penalty notices from the DVLA due to the scrapping of tax discs, as new figures show police cameras wrongly identify up to 1.2 million vehicles per day.

Tax discs scrapped: penalty fears for innocent drivers

Paper discs, which have been used for almost a century to show which motorists have paid tax, are being abolished from October 1 and replaced by a digital system involving number plate-reading cameras.

But there are concerns the change could lead to drivers being wrongly penalised after new figures highlighted concerns about the cameras' accuracy.

A copy of a presentation given by Home Office and police officials at a conference last week, seen by the Telegraph, reveals that "automatic number plate recognition" (ANPR) cameras make errors when scanning four in every 100 licence plates.

In 27 per cent of cases the cameras mistake a number for a letter, such as a zero for an "O". In 25 per cent the error is down to screws or bolts positioned too close to characters.

In another 25 per cent it is caused by broken or damaged plates, while in 22 per cent dirt on the number plate leads to a reading error.

The police's national network of about 500,000 ANPR cameras currently captures about 30 million individual images of licence plates each day, suggesting as many as 1.2 million may be read incorrectly.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: "The fact the system will totally rely on computer data and ANPR reading means that some innocent people will be targeted for not having tax when they actually do."

An AA Populus poll conducted late last year revealed that almost half of all motorists fear they will forget to pay tax in time without a disc on their windscreen to remind them.


Alex Todd Brand Manager at BoxyMo commented "This also raises other questions; for example, traffic wardens used to check each individual vehicle and now there won't be anything visible on the car for them to check. This will allow for the less scrupulous motorist to try to evade payment."

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