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Council continues to get tough with rogue PHV drivers

four traffic cameras together side-by-side

Rogue PHV drivers hoped to take advantage of a licensing loophole by registering with one council and operating out of the area.

Many legitimate drivers register with Wolverhampton because they say it is easier and cheaper than obtaining their PHV badge from the authority in which they operate.

This has caused an ongoing debate with concerns about safety and enforcement, but the City of Wolverhampton Council has shown its rigorous checking procedures mean it is no pushover when it comes to dealing with those who break the rules.

Hi-tech checks

As part of that ongoing nationwide drive, it is using the latest technology to target PHV drivers who use illegal number plates to avoid bus lane, congestion charging and speed cameras.

It recently conducted spot checks in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Central London and Manchester Airport, in conjunction with the police and local councils, using special cameras to detect “ghost plates” – illegal infra-red reflective number plates which appear obscured when using infra-red technology that operates the cameras.

This crackdown was launched after infra-red reflective plates had been spotted on vehicles, preventing them from being read by cameras, which is an offence under the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001, making it illegal “to alter any characters or apply or use material which makes the plate retroreflective”.

One PHV driver who was found to have a reflective number plate was issued with a £100 Penalty Charge Notice by police officers.


The crackdown also allows the council’s enforcement officers to inspect the vehicles for defects and any other safety or licensing issues.

As a result of the operation, Wolverhampton Council has bought more of the specialist cameras which are being used by each of the compliance teams during operations across the country.

In February and March, the council revealed that this led to 10 further notices being issued to PHV drivers for illegal plates spotted during regular checks.

As well as drivers trying to avoid tickets for speeding and driving in bus lanes or congestion-charging zones, there are huge safety concerns about someone operating as a PHV driver with an obscured number plate. Should there be something more sinister than trying to dodge points and fines, it would make it difficult for police to trace a driver, especially if they were carrying a vulnerable passenger.


This is why PHV drivers not only face the same £100 PCN as other motorists but could also lose their taxi badge. For everyone’s safety, authorities need to be able to identify and trace vehicles on our roads. Otherwise, cars using ghost plates give criminals the opportunity to operate freely.

Councillor Craig Collingswood, Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: “Wolverhampton is leading the way as the first council investing in this state-of-the-art technology to deter and detect offenders.

“Bus lanes are essential for the public transport network to operate efficiently, and speed cameras help to keep the public safe from speeding vehicles and reduce the likelihood of a crash.

“All motorists can expect to pay a fine if found to be using these illegal methods to avoid cameras and taxi drivers licensed by Wolverhampton may have their licence suspended or revoked.”

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.

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