City of Wolverhampton Council’s taxi licencing and compliance officers are cracking down on illegal number plates being used by their licensed vehicles around the country.

The illegal infra red (IR) reflective plates are sometimes known as ‘3D’ or ‘4D’ plates or ‘ghost plates’ due to how they appear on IR cameras. 
This crackdown comes following infra red reflective plates being seen on vehicles, preventing them from being able to be read by infrared cameras. This means that they are not visible to speed, bus lane or low emission zone cameras – which is an offence. 

Under the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001, it is illegal to alter any characters or apply or use material which makes the plate retroreflective.

A large operation was undertaken recently around England in which over 80 vehicles were checked for illegal plates, as well as other issues which may have been present upon inspection.

The operation, which covered Wolverhampton and Birmingham city centres, Manchester Airport and Central London in partnership with Transport for London and the respective Police, found a vehicle in breach of this after it was tested with an IR camera and found to have an illegal reflective front plate.

The national operation was spurred on by joint work between West Midlands Police and the Council piloting the cameras when they found a private hire vehicle with ghost plates. The driver was issued with a £100 Penalty Charge Notice by police officers.

The specialist cameras have now been purchased for each of the compliance teams to be used on their operations. During February and March, a further ten notices were handed out to drivers for problem plates when spotted on officer’s regular checks and patrols.

Councillor Craig Collingswood, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: "Wolverhampton is leading the way as the first council investing in this state of the art technology to deter and detect offenders. 

“Bus lanes are essential for the public transport network to operate efficiently and speed cameras help to keep the public safe from speeding vehicles and reduce the likelihood of a crash. 

“All motorists can expect to pay a fine if found to be using these illegal methods to avoid cameras and taxi drivers licensed by Wolverhampton may have their licence suspended or revoked."