The introduction of continuous registration (CR) legislation came in with a host of advertising campaigns on television, radio, local and national newspapers and word of mouth, in January 2004. The operational side of this legislation had started well before this date. This included the setting up of 3 regional centres (the Continuous Registration Enforcement Centres) with fully trained staffed, furnishings and equipment in place to be able to complete the job. In June 2003, Glasgow Continuous Registration Enforcement Centre (CREC) was the first. Initially staff dealt with Statutory Off Road Notifications (SORN declaration) cases only until February 2004 and took revenue in excess of £2.8 million. This was followed by Northampton CREC in November 2003. Its main function was to help with SORN enforcement cases from Glasgow CREC. Given an original opening target of £532,500 by cessation of SORN enforcement, the figure by the closing date was £681,000. To date this has been calculated at £753,500 ? exceeding the original target by more than 40%.
Before the launch of CR, Glasgow and Northampton CRECs raised £3.5 million in fines, and forwarded thousands of SORN declarations and main file record updates further to improve the accuracy of DVLA?s records. The final link in the CR enforcement chain which was slowly closing around vehicle excise duty (VED) evaders, was Bournemouth CREC. The office opened in February 2004 taking up the challenge of immediate CR enforcement and ensuring the Agency?s target of a 98% accurate record is upheld.
Continuous registration is now well under way. In March 2004, an extract of DVLA?s vehicle database was run, identifying all vehicle records with a date of liability of 1 January 2004 where neither a licence nor SORN declaration was in force. Following integrity tests, around 86,000 letters were despatched over two days in March 2004 to the registered keepers of the vehicles. Two days after despatch of the letters, CRECs were dealing with an average of 1300 to 1500 calls per day at peak times. To ensure good customer service a telephone overspill plan had been put in place enabling staff in DVLA local offices nationwide to deal with calls that would not otherwise get through at peak times.
The responses received from these phonecalls and letters are providing both up-to-date information with which to update the vehicle record and revenue from the payment of the penalty and arrears of duty. By the end of July 2004, CRECs took in excess of £3.6 million in penalties and £713,732 in arrears of duty. The first cases for CR prosecution have now gone to court. Maidstone Local Office took the first batch of 15 continuous registration cases to the magistrates? court in July 2004. 12 people were prosecuted in absence, 1 paid out of court and 2 were adjourned. All those prosecuted were fined £1000 plus 5 times the annual rate of duty, totalling £20,800. Following on from this success, an initial 150 cases (CR penalties) have already been sent to the county courts for judgement with lots more waiting in the wings. So the wheels of enforcement are turning and with the advent of phase 3 of the system, the automatic transfer of cases to the County Court Bulk-handling centre in October 2004, the wheels will well and truly be set in motion.
There is no escape!
Article by Pat Woolley, taken from DVL Today - Issue 27 - Reproduced under Crown Copyright