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Wolverhampton Council crackdown on illegal 'Ghost' plates used by taxis and PHVs


Image credit: City of Wolverhampton Council

City of Wolverhampton Council's taxi licensing and compliance officers are intensifying efforts to eliminate the use of illegal ‘Ghost’ number plates used by licensed vehicles across the UK.


These infra-red (IR) reflective plates, often referred to as '3D', '4D', or 'ghost' plates, become invisible to IR cameras, which poses a challenge for law enforcement.

These problematic plates prevent detection by speed, bus lane, and low emission zone cameras, thereby constituting an offence under the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001. It is strictly illegal to modify the characters or to apply materials that make the plates retroreflective.


A comprehensive operation recently conducted across several regions, including Wolverhampton and Birmingham city centres, Manchester Airport, and Central London, led to the inspection of over 80 vehicles. This initiative, in partnership with Transport for London and local police forces, identified several vehicles with these illegal plates. One notable incident involved a vehicle tested with an IR camera and found to have an illicit reflective front plate.


This national effort was inspired by collaborative work between West Midlands Police and the Council, which involved piloting the use of these cameras. This pilot identified a private hire vehicle equipped with ghost plates, resulting in a £100 Penalty Charge Notice issued to the driver by the police.

To bolster ongoing operations, specialist cameras have been acquired for each compliance team. In February and March alone, an additional ten notices were issued to drivers with problematic plates during routine checks and patrols.


The crackdown provides a clear signal that authorities are taking a no-tolerance approach to any attempts to evade detection by using illegal modifications. Taxi drivers and private hire vehicle operators are being advised to comply with the regulations to avoid penalties and enforcement actions.


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."

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