RISING numbers of motorists are being nabbed for illegal driving in a blitz aimed at keeping our roads safe.
Hartlepool Police seized 1,081 vehicles in just two-and-a-half-years in Hartlepool after motorists were stopped for not having a licence or insurance or for anti-social driving.
Cleveland Police seized 884 vehicles in Hartlepool between January 2009 and the end of last month after motorists were stopped for driving without insurance, compared to 3,784 across the force area.
In the same period there were 118 in Hartlepool where drivers were found behind the wheel without a licence, compared to 502 across Cleveland.
And there were 79 vehicles seized in Hartlepool, compared to 316 across the force area, where people were caught driving anti-socially.
The figures show there were 331 vehicles seized in town in 2009, compared to 461 in 2010 and 289 in the first seven months of this year alone.
The Mail launched its Tow the Line campaign after a change in the law allowed police to seize vehicles where they will only be released upon production of proper documentation.
Ian Bruce, vehicle liaison officer for Cleveland Police, said: “These powers are there and they are being used all the time.
“Anyone taking the risk of driving a without a licence or insurance must remember we are being very pro-active to have these vehicles seized.
“It has been very positive throughout the force area and it has been found that we are bringing quite a number in. It is forcing people to take insurance out to reclaim their vehicles.”
People who have vehicles seized must pay £150 to get their vehicle back and £20 a day charge for storage.
Uninsured drivers must have insurance before they release their vehicle and they also face a £200 fixed penalty notice.
Mr Bruce, who is a former police officer, issued a stark warning to people thinking of driving illegally – police are out to get them and they will take their vehicles away.
He added: “The law states that to take a vehicle out on the road it must be insured and you must have a licence to drive it.
“Uninsured and unlicensed drivers do cost money to prosecute, so the more we have that are legally on the road, the less cost there is to law-abiding members of the public.
“This law is not going to go anywhere, it is an ongoing process where vehicles are checked and the information gained will go on a database, so we will have all the details and we will be able to take appropriate action.”