Why is it so difficult to report an illegible number plate?

I have a pet peeve. Well, ok, I have more than one pet peeve as regular readers will know. But this one is reasonably high up the list. I’m thinking about people who deliberately misrepresent their number plates and more specifically, people who misrepresent them to such an extent that they become illegible, offensive or both.

I followed one such miscreant driving a blue BMW through the centre of Derby this morning. When it was safe to do so, I pulled over to the side of the road, parked, and took a photograph of their number plate with the intention of reporting it later to either the DVLA or the Derbyshire Constabulary. Much as the practice of misrepresenting number plates annoys me I’ve never thought about reporting someone for it before, but this particular misrepresentation made what should have been a fairly innocuous registration mark both illegible and offensive.


However, I’ve now reluctantly given up on reporting it.

It would seem that neither the DVLA nor the police are particularly interested in the issue, even though there is a fine of up to £1,000 for the offence. It’s important that vehicles have legible number plates as if the car concerned was to be involved in a future incident, a witness being able to accurately recall the registration mark may become significant.

However, the DVLA don’t provide any mechanism I can find for reporting such offences (online, by telephone or in person) and it appears that there’s no easy way to report anything other than some very specific concerns to Derbyshire Constabulary online. So reluctantly, I decided to try the 101 non-emergency number. It seems ridiculous that the only way of reporting a petty offence is to either do it in person at a police station or to have to wait for ages on the ‘phone to talk to someone.

In the end I got fed up of the hold music. The incident will go unreported. I hope that the car saw isn’t involved in any future incident where someone’s inability to understand the number plate turns out to be important.


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