Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (IT 182)

INTEGRATED TRANSPORT

  1. We have used the paragraph numbering in your letter to Pauline Gaunt for our responses.

  Q1. We would be interested to know what amendments to section 172 of the Road Traffic Act the police are seeking. No approach has been made to the DVLA or the Department.

  Q1(a) Details of the current keeper of a vehicle are passed by DVLA to the Police National Computer. Details of the keeper at the date of event are passed to Local Authorities in the investigation of parking offences. If the driver cannot be traced from this information, details of all previous keepers are provided to both the police and local authorities.

  Q1(b) We are not clear what changes to the DVLA database the police require. However the Agency has recently completed a study of the various options to enable the driver of a vehicle to be more easily identified. The options were:

    (i)  Hold the driver number on the vehicle record. Primary legislation would be required and there would be significant development and ongoing running costs (in the order of £3 million per annum).

    (ii)  Development of a Common Address File. This would involve a complete restructuring of the driver and vehicle databases so that only one address and person details is held for any individual. In effect a link between the driver and vehicle databases would be developed. Legislative changes would be required and development costs are estimated at between £2 million and £3 million.

    (iii)  Use Third Party Sources to Identify the Driver. Sources include the proposed insurance database, credit reference agencies and a company which is in the process of developing a "sterile address" file which it is claimed will be able to identify individuals and where they live. Further research would be required to ascertain the potential suitability of the above suppliers and costings.

  The likely development costs of any of these initiatives present significant difficulties for the Agency. In that respect, there is the potential for us to take the opportunity presented by the Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team (VCRAT) initiative to acquire the appropriate funding from the Home Office.

  In the meantime, the Agency continues to recognise the importance of an accurate and up to date vehicle register. DVLA is acutely aware of its responsibilities in this area and has introduced a number of initiatives designed to improve the quality of the vehicle register.

  In 1997 the Agency introduced the Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) scheme—new vehicle registration procedures to enhance the register and facilitate VED enforcement. SORN was introduced in two phases. First, Dual Notification (DN) required both the disposer and acquirer of a vehicle to notify the transaction to DVLA at the same time and on the same form. Indications are that since the introduction of DN that changes to vehicle keepership are being notified much sooner than would otherwise have been the case. From 1 February 1998, the second phase required the keeper of the vehicle to notify DVLA if the vehicle was to be kept off road and unlicensed.

  Q1(c) DVLA has supported the European Directive to introduce a Harmonised registration document by 2003. This is a useful and practical measure that will assist vehicle enforcement authorities across the Community in the fight against vehicle crime. Political agreement on the Draft Directive has been reached at the Council of Ministers and it awaits a second reading in the European Parliament. The proposed harmonised registration document will allow the Member States to record details of owners, keepers and lessees of vehicles, aiding in particular the speedy identification of the drivers of leased and company cars.

  Q2(a) The UK already exchanges vehicle information electronically with several other European Countries via the European Vehicle and Driving Licence Systems (EUCARIS).

  Q2(b) The domestic legislation of participating countries combined with Data Protection legislation has precluded the exchange of personal details with regard to vehicle keepers/owners, although personal details are available on EUCARIS in relation to driving licences.

R Oliver

Vehicle Policy Group

12 February 1999


 
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Prepared 28 April 1999