Future of the Vehicle Identity Check (Vic) Scheme

The Vehicle Operator and Services Agency (VOSA) has the power to inspect “written off” vehicles, where the cost of repairing exceeds the value of the car. The Vehicle Identity Check (VIC) scheme was introduced in 2003.

The Department for Transport (“DfT”) launched a consultation July 2012 concerning the future of the VIC scheme and whether the scheme is fit for purpose. The DfT are considering the following options:

    1. Retain the scheme in its current format. The scheme is the only deterrent to ringing at present, and has worked in finding 38 ringers so far.
    2. Re-scoping. Keep the scheme, but narrow its scope to focus on ‘high­ risk’ vehicles.
    3. Abolish the scheme. Vehicle crime has fallen since the inception of the scheme, although the precise contribution of VIC is difficult to quantify. It has cost so far around £30m to the motorists.

The aim of the VIC scheme is to deter vehicle ringing, a crime which involves the theft of a car of significant value. This vehicle is then given the identity of a car which has been the subject of an insurance write-off. The written-off car is obtained cheaply and its Vehicle Identity Number (VIN) and Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM) are transferred to the stolen car which, now apparently genuine, can be sold at a high price.

Since the VIC scheme was introduced in April 2003, approximately 700,000 checks have been undertaken, of which 38 failed checks were confirmed “ringers”. This cost the motorist approximately £30m.

Approximately 3/4 of all checks were undertaken on cars which were 7 years or older.  These vehicles were written-off because the cost of even small repairs was greater than the very low market value of the vehicle. So for many motorists, it has become an unnecessary procedure, particularly when a vehicle has been in the hands of the same keeper for several years and the market value is low.

Data provided from the British Crime Survey has demonstrated that vehicle theft continues to fall and has been doing so since the 1990s, prior to the VIC scheme being introduced.

For advice on any transport law issues, please contact Jared Dunbar at Dyne Solicitors on 01829 773 100.

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