Sunday, 21 September 2014

No more "failure to display"

From 1st October, vehicles will no longer need a disc of paper to demonstrate that their keeper has paid excise duty for them. The proof will be all on the DVLA's servers.

I had hoped to reproduce here the original tax disc which in those early days came in a design which enabled it to be shown in either a square or a round holder, before the latter became the preferred form. Unfortunately, all the background papers which I accumulated in my time as a junior analyst when the forerunner to the present centralised licensing system was being devised, but no doubt one or more of the print media will produce a potted history of road fund tax and vehicles excise.

One of the recent reports states: "in reality, police have not checked those flimsy circles of paper to identify tax-dodgers for some time. The DVLA's car ownership [sic] information is all on computer and today they use number plate recognition cameras to roam the streets so they can instantly identify whether or not a car is taxed."

Time was when police were keen to keep the tax disc, because of the crime of "failure to display" a current vehicle excise licence. It was one of the most common offences of the criminal classes, as police saw them, and would enable a constable to detain someone suspected of a more serious offence but for which there was more tenuous evidence.

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