New powers under the Road Safety Act 2006 will see The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) & Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) in N.I step up the enforcement effort against number plate suppliers who break the law in Scotland & N. I. The DVA is the new name of the former DVLNI in Northern Ireland.

DVLA & DVA are calling on number plates suppliers in Scotland & NI to register with them before 1st Nov. 2008. Those who continue to supply a number plate, personalised or not after that date without being registered risk a fine of up to £5,000 &/or suspension from the register. This follows the extension to Scotland & NI of regulations governing the supply of car number plates, which previously only applied in England & Wales.

From 1st Nov. 2008, number plate suppliers in Scotland & N.I. must request & record specific documents (such as DVLA Vehicle registration certificates (V5C/V5CNI) & a driving licence) before supplying number plates. Failure to do so will constitute an offence. They must keep these records for three years following a sale.

The Register of Number Plate Suppliers regulations were originally introduced in England & Wales in January 2003. This was to tackle vehicle-related crimes & reduce the sale & use of ‘cloned’ or ‘ringed’ vehicles as well as the use of car number plates that do not conform to the necessary legal requirements. DVLA Sell number plates at auction however which encourage the mis-spacing and misrepresentation of plates and so are a bit hypocritical.

It is already an offence across the UK for motorists to display non-compliant car number plates on their vehicles, as of 1st Nov. 2008 it will become an offence to supply number plates that do not comply with the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001. Some normal & cherished number plate suppliers already advise their customers that non-compliant number plates cannot be used on the road & are for display purposes only, however, it will now become offence to supply non-compliant number plates irrespective of any advice given.

Noel Shanahan, Chief Executive of DVLA said: “Extending the register of number plate suppliers scheme to the rest of the UK & new regulations prohibiting the supply of non-compliant number plates are important & positive steps. These measures will further secure the integrity of the number plate supply system & provide greater assurance in helping to identify vehicles & their users where needed.”

Brendan Magee, Chief Executive of DVA said: “The extension of the register of number plate suppliers scheme to Northern Irel& is further evidence of the Government’s commitment to making it more difficult for criminals to obtain number plates. This register will be an important source of information for the investigation of vehicle crime. These measures introduce some control over the supply of number plates &, along with recent progress towards the wider availability of theft-resistant number plates represent an essential component of the Government’s vehicle crime reduction strategy.”

Jon Hartley of the British Number plate Manufacturers Assoc (BNMA) said: “The BNMA very much welcomes the roll-out of the register of number plate suppliers regulations to Scotland & N.I. Enforcement & awareness is the key to successful implementation & we welcome any new initiative by DVLA & DVA to push this strongly. We are positive that a well-enforced roll-out of the scheme will aid tractability of number plates, reduce number plate related crime & generally improve the quality of number plates fitted to vehicles in the UK.”

DVLA & DVA have a team of enforcement officers who visit suppliers’ premises. They are able to offer advice to help suppliers comply with the legislation. If they believe stronger action is warranted, they are also authorised to instigate legal proceedings. There have been reports however of over zealous policing by DVLA staff and aggressive approaches to number plates suppliers.