Police crushed my car, even though it was insured - dad

First published in News by

A FATHER of four's car was crushed after police wrongly accused him of driving without insurance.

Officers stopped Steven Booth's Peugeot while he was driving to work in Blackburn Road, Bolton.

They told him that according to their database he had no insurance and made him get out and walk, leaving his car parked at the side of the road. Police then arranged for the car to be towed away.

Because Mr Booth and his family could not raise the £105 fee for it to be released from the compound within the specified 14-day period, it was crushed.

Yet the car was fully insured by the AA. Now Mr Booth and his family do not have any transport.

He said: "I did nothing wrong - but they crushed my car."

Mr Booth, aged 36, of Trafford Street, Farnworth, was stopped at 2am on January 8 as he was driving to work in the car, for a night shift delivering fruit and vegetables.

His wife, Rachel, took the AA insurance certificate to Farnworth Police Station at 12.30pm the same day.

Mrs Booth was given a form to claim back the car from HM Recovery in Horwich.

But when Mr Booth heard about the £105 charge, he refused to pay - and for each day the car was in storage, the bill went up an extra £12.

Police patrol cars are fitted with a camera linked to the DVLA database that can instantly tell officers from the registration number if a vehicle is being driven illegally. Police use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology which checks the DVLA and the Motor Insurers' Information Centre.

Mr Booth says he told the police officer who stopped him that he was insured.

"The police's attitude towards me was unbelievable. They said I might have cancelled my payments, in which case they would charge me with deception," he said.

"I asked if I could produce my documents later in the day, but they said my car would be towed away and I was left stranded and had to walk into work."

Mr Booth now pays £7.20 for a taxi to work every day and £1.55 for a bus journey home.

Ian Crowder, head of insurance public relations at The AA, confirmed Mr Booth was fully insured.

He said: "We think the police are behaving in cavalier fashion.

"Mr Booth was fully insured and was paying by instalments. His insurance was automatically updated on January 4.

"As far as we can tell he is not in the wrong and he and his family have lost out. We will be investigating this case."

A spokesman for HM Recovery, at Horwich Business Park, in Chorley New Rd, confirmed the car had been disposed of but claimed Mr Booth had signed a disposal notice. Mr Booth denies this.

He said: "I have not signed anything."

A police spokesman said: "When conducting investigations into whether vehicles are legitimately insured, GMP officers do not solely rely on the motor insurance database for verification. This is because it is not the responsibility of police forces to update the database and on occasions it can be inaccurate.

"An incident where a car was seized in Bolton on January 8, 2007, has been brought to the attention of officers.

"The circumstances surrounding this seizure will now be fully investigated to establish whether or not the seizure was lawfully made.

"In 2006, 41,000 vehicles were seized by GMP officers in relation to insurance and licensing offences. Subsequent investigations showed only two of these vehicles were unlawfully seized."

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