Drivers are warned or penalised for using illegal number plates

IN a three-Force month-long campaign 278 drivers were given a formal penalty for using a misrepresented number plate on their vehicle.

Depending on the circumstances, they received a fixed penalty ticket, a vehicle defect rectification notice or a police warning.

Officers from the ANPR Intercept Teams (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) and Road Policing Units of Hertfordshire Constabulary, Bedfordshire Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary joined forces for the campaign, called Operation Dragon, which ran throughout March.

Regional results were: Cambridgeshire 62 vehicles; Bedfordshire 60 vehicles; Hertfordshire 156 vehicles

Number plates which are difficult to read correctly are illegal and make it difficult to identify vehicles which are involved in crime, for example, tracing a stolen car or a vehicle used in a getaway after a robbery.

As part of Operation Dragon, ANPR officers looked out for motorists with number plates that: displayed adjusted fixings or bolts which alter spaces or obscure characters to appear as something else; used any font that is not the standard DVLA approved ‘Charles Wright’ font; used offensive wording; were not easily readable or recognised by the naked eye.

Number plates should correctly be made from a reflective material. Front number plates must display black characters on a white background and rear number plate must display black characters on a yellow background.

Further information on how a number plate should be correctly displayed can be found on the DVLA website:

ANPR Manager in the joint Beds and Herts Road Policing Unit, Inspector Andy Piper, said: “ANPR teams across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire work hard to keep their counties safe and tackle criminals coming into these areas to commit crime.

“Addressing misrepresented registrations is a very important part of this on-going work. The month long crack-down across the three counties, when we specifically targeted this particular offence, will be repeated in the summer but is something we look out for on a daily basis.

“If you are displaying a number plate which is illegal, you will be pulled over and could face a fine of up to £1,000. I would therefore urge anyone using a misrepresented plate, or who is not aware of the permitted layout, to familiarise themselves with the correct format and change it as soon as possible.”

How does ANPR work?

The devices are used by police around the UK to detect and remove from the roads serious criminals (including burglars, robbers, drug dealers and fraudsters) unsafe vehicles and unsafe drivers.

ANPR instantly highlights suspicious vehicles to officers so the vehicles can be stopped and the ‘flagged’ issues investigated. The camera can read a number plate every second, and compares it against several local and national databases. It offers a more targeted approach than traditional methods, meaning fewer law-abiding motorists have their journeys interrupted and more criminals and unsafe vehicles are taken off the road.

Interested in how ANPR works? Visit the Herts Police channel on Youtube at for more.