Keep your headlights clean in winter

DRIVERS in Suffolk are today being urged to keep their number plates and lights clean during the winter to avoid breaking the law.Police reminded motorists that partially or totally obscured plates are illegal, after the AA Motoring Trust warned automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems used by officers could mistake them for criminals.

DRIVERS in Suffolk are today being urged to keep their number plates and lights clean during the winter to avoid breaking the law.

Police reminded motorists that partially or totally obscured plates are illegal, after the AA Motoring Trust warned automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems used by officers could mistake them for criminals.

Simon Stevens, a spokesman for Suffolk police, said: “Now is a timely reminder to keep number plates and lights clean because there is a lot more dirt on the road in the winter.

“ANPR is a very effective policing tool which can help keep Suffolk safe.

“Today's criminal invariably relies on motor vehicles to commit offences and this system can weed them out as they travel on the roads. Therefore it can effectively deny criminals the use of the road network in Suffolk and ensure we all remain safe.”

In addition to being illegal, number plates obscured by dirt or with incorrect letter and number spacing, that cannot be read by the ANPR camera, may be flagged up as suspect registrations, the AA Motoring Trust said.

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Plates that have been stolen or cloned by criminals and used to evade prosecution for speeding, illegal parking, insurance and other offences may also land the registered car owners in trouble.

The organisation added that with increasing use of ANPR, both motorists and enforcement agencies needed to understand the implications of this new crime-busting technology and tighten up their respective practices.

Paul Watters, head of roads and transport policy for the AA Motoring Trust, said: “Whereas, in the past, police officers may have unofficially turned a blind eye to number plates covered in mud or customised registrations unless they needed to stop a car, ANPR may mean that the days of the fancy or dirty plate are numbered.

“ANPR will help police to catch illegal vehicles and drivers together at the roadside, whereas clamping and removing rogue cars, although taking them out of circulation, rarely catches up with offenders who simply buy another cheap vehicle.

However, there will be other drivers, whose number-plates are obscured or cloned, who may be caught in the net.”

N Has your car been mistaken for a criminal's vehicle? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK: www.aatrust.com

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