New report reveals the volume of police-seized vehicles in the UK

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A new report has revealed that in 2023, UK police forces seized approximately 214,051 vehicles from our roads.

The highest concentration of vehicle seizures occurred in Dundee, with 23,344 vehicles possessed by the police force last year.

National Scrap Car submitted an FOI to all 45 police forces in the UK and collated the data from the 23 responses they received.

The results revealed that uninsured/ untaxed vehicles, road traffic collisions and stolen vehicles were the most common causes for the forces to take action.

Dundee saw the highest number of vehicle seizures, followed by the West Midlands with 23,203 seized vehicles and Greater Manchester with 22,317.

Dorry Potter, car expert at National Scrap Car commented:

“There are multiple reasons why the police can take a vehicle, whether it has been used in a crime, abandoned, considered a nuisance or risk, or if the vehicle is uninsured or untaxed.

“Once a vehicle has been impounded by the police, some vehicles are returned to their owners while others are sold at auction and others are scrapped. This all depends on the state of the vehicle, along with whether the original owner of the vehicle can be contacted.

“By conducting this study we wished to find out what parts of the country had the highest volume of impounded vehicles, along with the main reasons behind why so many vehicles are kept in car pounds up and down the country.”

The data revealed that 59% of the reported seized vehicles were returned to their owners, however over one in six of these vehicles ended up being destroyed and a further 12,939 (6%) vehicles were sold at auction.

The most common reason for a vehicle to be impounded across the UK was due to the vehicle having no insurance or legal licence, which means the vehicle does not abide by Section 165 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

You are required by law to hold a full, valid driving licence, with the only exception being learner drivers who hold provisional licences. Additionally, under motoring law, anyone using a vehicle on the road or another public place must have valid insurance against third party risks. This includes vehicles which are merely parked on public roads and not being driven.

Drivers who don’t abide by these laws can face fines, driving bans and in the case here, see their vehicles seized.

56,707 vehicles were impounded for having no insurance or licence, with the highest volume in the West Midlands with 7,339 vehicles seized in the 12 month period.

The second most common reason is road traffic collisions with 49,278 incidents leading to vehicle seizures. Dundee had the highest number of incidents with 8,608 cars possessed by the police in that period.

In these events, the cars are typically seized because they’re no longer in a road-worthy state following the accident, or are being kept as evidence by the police. An additional 1,978 vehicles were seized in this period due to serious or fatal accidents.

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