you are driving peacefully down the road when a police officer steps out and flags you down. You are relieved of your car keys, informed that you will be prosecuted for driving without insurance, and you are given the option of either contesting this in court at a future date, or accepting a large fine and about six penalty points immediately. A short while afterwards a pickup truck arrives, and your car is towed away to a police pound, leaving you to find your own way home.
You have been caught by one of the many weapons that the police forces have at their disposal, to catch uninsured drivers. The main ones are:
Approximately £30 is added to every single car insurance premium in Britain and this is given to the Motor Insurers' Bureau, which is an organisation set up to provide compensation for people who have been involved in accidents which were the faults of uninsured drivers. The bureau also manages the Motor Insurers Database, which is a central record of every single car insurance policy in Britain.
This is cross referenced with information from the DVLA, and so the police have access to information about all the cars on British roads, whether or not they are insured, by whom, and what type of policies these are. By checking this database police officers can not only find out whether or not a car is uninsured, but also whether or not the driver is insured for the particular purpose the vehicle is being used for. For example, someone with a normal car policy who is using a car to deliver light goods or food, or using it for some other form of business, would not be insured, since a standard policy does not cover these types of use.
It seems that every road we drive along these days is covered by a camera. These cameras not only allow police to monitor driving conditions and spot moving traffic violations, but many them can also read number plates. These are also carried in some police cars; most police authorities are very cagey about how many have this system installed, but the numbers are increasing all the time.
These numbers are automatically checked, almost instantly, with the MID. This means that if an uninsured driver is tracked by one of these cameras this fact can be broadcast to any police officers in the vicinity.
There are (in 2021) about 11,000 ANPR caneras in Britain, and about 50 Million number plate records are collected daily. These are stored for about a year meaning that the police have access to a huge amount of information that they can use to detect crime; including uninsured driving.
That is a closely guarded secret. However about 150,000 cars are impounded by the police every year for various infringements, most of them insurance related. About 40% of impounded cars are never released back to the previous owners since many of these cannot afford the fines, towing fees, storage and heavy insurance costs (insurance for an impounded car is extremely expensive and a car will not be released without it).
Although many of these ANPR cameras are on motorways some police forces are reluctant to flag drivers down to check their insurance details in case a potential accident situation is created. However, busy roads with heavy traffic are ideal, particularly if a police car can be stationed nearby in a layby. Many a Sunday morning's overtime can be spent by police officers who just have to sit waiting for uninsured drivers to fall into their laps.
Alternatively the cameras can photograph the occupants so that they can be visited, and charged, at home.