HC Deb 05 March 2003 vol 400 cc1062-3W
Mr. Sheerman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps he is taking to ensure that police authorities deal with the disposal of abandoned vehicles in a cost-effective manner; [99327]

2) what guidance he gives to police authorities to assist in the co-ordination of efforts to (a) identify and (b) dispose of abandoned vehicles. [99326]

Mr. Denham

The statutory responsibility for removal and disposal of abandoned vehicles lies with local authorities rather than police authorities.

Police constables, in addition to local authority employees, can remove vehicles that have been abandoned without authority and any vehicle, whether or not abandoned, that has broken down or been left in such a position that it causes danger or obstruction or breaches parking restrictions. The majority of abandoned vehicles are unlicensed, and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has separate powers to remove unlicensed vehicles. We are working with the interested parties to ensure the most effective use locally of the different powers that are available.

In April 2002 we brought in important new measures to improve dealing with abandoned vehicles. These enable local authorities to remove and dispose of abandoned vehicles in a shorter timescale, act on behalf of DVLA to remove unlicensed vehicles and have easier and quicker access to the DVLA database to seek to identify the owners of abandoned vehicles, so that action can be taken against them. More recently, we have made it possible for Community Support Officers and accredited community safety officers to have the powers of constables for dealing with abandoned vehicles.

In the longer term we aim to make it less likely that vehicles will be abandoned. Continuous registration will from 1 January next year provide that the person registered as keeper on the DVLA database remains liable for a vehicle until DVLA has been properly notified of a change of keeper.