Cheshire Police operate a commercial vehicles unit who work with
the Vehicle Operator
Services Agency and the Highways Agency to check the
roadworthyness of commercial
It is not just roadworthiness that's being
checked - officers have also uncovered drug hauls,
people smuggling, counter-terrorism information
and money laundering crimes. The unit will stop commercial vehicles
and will make a range of checks, below are some of the penalties
that can be imposed on offenders.
On the spot fines
Legislation allows Police and VOSA to issue
on the spot fines to drivers without a suitable UK
address. These range from £30 to £300, with a
maximum of 3 tickets, or £900, per offender.
Fixed penalty notices
Drivers of Heavy Goods Vehicles are restricted to a
number of hours they can drive each day and each week and
are also restricted to a maximum weight per
vehicle. Such breaches are dealt with by graduated fixed
penalty notice and prohibition.
Prohibition of a vehicle
Cheshire Constabulary and VOSA can in
certain circumstances prohibit a vehicle for up to
45 hours. If it is suspected that the vehicle may be driven away or
if a driver does not pay the fine, then the vehicle can be
immobilised. This is basically an armoured cable wrapped around an
axle so it cannot move.
Fine and prohibit before court proceedings
Cheshire Constabulary and VOSA fine and
prohibit before any subsequent court proceedings. However if a
driver goes to court and found not guilty, fines are returned with
interest paid. So far there have been no "not guilty" pleas.
Since May 2006, all tachograph recording
equipment is digital, which means all driving
activities are recorded on a driver card. One of the most serious
offences is when driver attaches a magnet to the sender unit by the
vehicle gear box. This interferes with the recording equipment and
can show the vehicle at rest when actually in motion. This is an
offence by which a driver can be arrested under
the Fraud Act. It essentially creates a false instrument and it
also will interfere with the Anti-lock Braking System and will
bypass the speed limiter - thereby allowing the vehicle can attain
any speed. This also mean none of the controls will operate up on
- PC Adam Morrall
There have been a very small minority of drivers and hauliers
alike who constantly flout the regulations and rules.
If they come through Cheshire's motorway network they are going
to get stopped and they are going to get dealt with robustly. That
may be way of fixed fine, court appearance or time off the road in
the form of a prohibition.
Cheshire Police Commercial Vehicle Unit
The Commercial Vehicle Unit began in June 2009, working in
partnership with the Vehicle
Operator Services Agency and the Highways Agency.
It is part of Cheshire Constabulary’s Road Policing Unit and has
dedicated officers checking the roadworthiness of commercial
vehicles by the M6 services at Sandbach.
HM Revenue and Customs and
the Department of Work and
Pensions are also involved and the different authorities pool
their powers to keep motorways safe.
It is not just roadworthiness that’s being checked - officers
have also uncovered drug hauls, people smuggling, counter-terrorism
information and money laundering crimes.
Then there is the illegal use of rebated heavy oil, or red
diesel, by commercial vehicles. This is heavily-discounted fuel
only available to farmers and construction companies - and dyed a
distinctive red colour. Wrongful use of this fuel has tax
Cheshire Constabulary also check the tachograph of lorries – the
device that monitors how long a driver has been at the wheel and
details other information about their journey. They also check to
see if tachographs have been tampered with to falsify
- PC Dave Clegg
That can range from driving over their hours for a particular
day, having insufficient rest in between days of working and
working for more days that you should. The worst case scenario
we've had until now is drivers who are driving upwards of 20 days
without sufficient breaks which obviously has a knock on effect
with road safety.
Tachographs are either paper or electronic. Those found to have
tampered with their tachograph will be fined and their vehicle
impounded for 45 hours.
For more information about the rules involving the number of
hours a lorry, van, bus and coach driver can spend on the road, and
the use of tachographs, please go to the
government's Business Link website.
Successes from the Commercial Vehicles Unit
Between 1 June and 1 December 2009, the two officers in the
Commercial Vehicle Unit have:
- Issued 240 graduated fixed penalty tickets to the value of
these tickets £40,000. This money goes to the Government.
- Prohibited 160 vehicles from driving
- Created 146 intelligence reports
- Had 35 offenders either arrested or deemed too serious for a
graduated fixed penalty notices
- Seized 14 vehicles
The work of Cheshire Constabulary's Commercial Vehicle Unit has
been praised by Traffic Commissioner for the north west, Beverley
Bell. The Traffic Commissioner controls the licences given to the
haulage and taxi industries.
- Beverley Bell, Traffic Commissioner for the north
There's certainly been a huge reduction as far as I can see in
the incidents of drivers causing difficulties. It's right to say
there's been a reduction in the number of fatalities since the unit
The police are working very hard with VOSA at the road side to
physically put unsafe vehicles off the road and make the roads a
safer place. The roads are generally safe anyway but what I think
this work is doing is targeting those specific operators and
drivers need to put off the road quickly.