Merseyside Police cars spotted with out-of-date tax discs
RED-faced police chiefs promised to review procedures today – after three patrol cars parked outside a station had out-of-date tax discs.
The cars were spotted outside Birkenhead Police Station, in Mortimer Street, on Thursday.
One of the discs expired in September 2008 and the other two lapsed at the end of last month.
Police first wrongly claimed their vehicles need not display up-to-date tax discs – before eventually vowing to review procedures.
A force spokeswoman claimed the discs with April 2009 expiry dates were not technically an offence because motorists were allowed five working days’ grace to renew their tax.
And the spokeswoman said the third car did have a valid 2009 tax which must have “slipped or blown out of view”.
Darren Wheatley, of the DVLA, said today: “The law requires every vehicle that is used or kept on a public road to display a valid tax disc.
“However as a customer service improvement measure an exemption from the offence of not displaying a tax disc for the first five working days at the start of a month was introduced on September 1.
“This exemption applies to all vehicles including ones exempt from the payment of vehicle excise duty such as police vehicles.”
Today chief executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance Matthew Elliott said: “Car taxes are sky-high and it’s wrong that the police expect us to pay ours and then allow their own to lapse with no consequences.
“If ordinary taxpayers were caught with untaxed cars they would incur a heavy fine, no questions asked.
“The police should lead by example and see that their legitimacy is undermined when they do not obey the laws they are supposed to enforce.”
Although police cars, trams, ambulances and lifeboat vehicles are exempt from actually paying road tax they must display an up-to-date licence.
The last available figures show a dramatic increase in the number of untaxed vehicles being clamped or towed away on Merseyside.
The DVLA said a total of 3,184 cars were seized in the 12 months to May 2008 – compared to 2,638 in the previous 12 months.
Cars can be seized for having no valid tax discs. And in some cases they are even crushed.
A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said: “It has been brought to the force's attention that three police vehicles were seen in Birkenhead displaying out-of-date tax discs.
“All police vehicles are exempt from the requirement to pay vehicle excise. However these vehicles should have been displaying a 'nil licence'.
“We will review our procedures to make sure all valid discs are properly displayed in the future.” THE ECHO