London, 12 Oct 2001.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Don't smile - your car's on camera again
Vehicle Excise Duty (formerly 'Road Tax') accounts for less than 12% of the annual £1,300 tax take from British drivers. The Government now plans to use roadside digital cameras to catch and prosecute drivers who haven't paid up.
The Association of British Drivers today welcomed action against those who evade taxes and increase costs for the rest of us, but expressed concern about the Government's decision to use roadside cameras to catch Vehicle Excise Duty dodgers.

Because of the new SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification) rules, there is no need for camera enforcement of tax disks. A vehicle now has to be taxed all the time unless the driver has told the DVLA that it is not being used. The DVLA does not have to prove that the vehicle is in use - if it is not taxed and the driver has not formally declared his car out of use, he automatically commits an offence.

The Association is worried that automated camera and computer systems are being used. Speed cameras have already led to a catalogue of mistaken prosecutions with simple wet-film cameras. The potential for errors with new digital cameras linked to complex databases is multiplied vastly. The group believes that tax cameras are both unnecessary and could lead to yet more errors.

Mark McArthur-Christie, the ABD's Road Safety and Traffic Spokesman said

"Of course we don't condone tax evasion, but we're concerned about how this enforcement campaign is being run. The campaign relies on the absolute accuracy of the DVLA's cameras and computers, and we're concerned that innocent drivers could be caught and fined."

They also believe there are civil liberties implications. McArthur-Christie comments

"It's now OK to use cameras to spy on drivers when they're driving and even when they're parking - now it's OK to spy on them to make sure they have a tax disc. No other group is regarded as such 'fair game' for surveillance. Is the Government planning to put cameras outside expensive restaurants to catch Income Tax dodgers next?"


Notes for Editors