Police forces across the UK are enjoying success in their fight against uninsured drivers with their new Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras but have discovered a loophole in the system which needs to be plugged. The cameras feed updated software which can actually read the registration number of the car and then compare it with databases of all cars that are taxed and insured. If the registration is missing from either database the vehicle can be stopped and the driver asked to prove existence of insurance and or tax. If they can not do this the car can be located until such time as the driver can furnish proof.
However many drivers that have bought personalized registration numbers have fitted number plates which do not comply with the spacing required by legislation, others have plates with characters which are not the standard font such as italics. These number plates confuse the software and the equipment can not function correctly, the operator then receives an error message. Offending cars may well be taxed and insured but the system just can not verify this and the driver will be stopped. They will be forced to buy new conforming plates and visit an MOT testing station to have these verified before reporting to the police station to produce their vehicle documents and proof of compliance with number plate laws.
Legislation suits that the characters on each plate plate should be 79mm high and 50mm wide with a stroke of 14mm, there is only one font which is legal and it based on the Charles Wright font. Character spacing must be 11mm between each character and there must be a 33mm gap in the middle of the registration numbers between the two blocks of characters. There are other rules but these should not affect the operation of the ANPRS cameras. It should be noted that speed cameras are not affected in the same way as each photograph is inspected by a human and they can work out the correct registration number of the vehicle.
Further legislation came into force in late 2007 making number plates compliance part of the MOT test but this had to be withdrawn temporarily due to technical problems, this is due to be re-introduced in 2008. This should be a faster way of getting rid of these offending plates. Owners of personalized registration numbers which need to be unlawfully spaced in order for them to make any sense may see a sharp drop in the value of their number as the clampdown takes effect.
Most people think that buying these registration numbers and displaying illegal plates to make them work is just a harmless bit of fun as a human brain can still work out the true registration number of the car, however automated systems are capable of copying this human gift and the police take a very dim view of this activity. Not only can the owner face a fine of up to £ 1000 but their personal registration number can be confiscated without rehabilitation and some offenders have paid thousands of pounds for their registration number.