How much trouble can I get into with an illegal number plate?

Well, it all started one fine sunny day when myself and a couple of colleagues were using a combination of unmarked camera bike, a marked bike and a marked car.

Having made a couple of new ‘friends’ who were riding their bikes far too fast through the county, (who now had certification of just how fast they were going), the weather was turning and the brightly leather clad sports bike riders had fled for cover as showers blew through.

Just to prevent any of a group who were just leaving a café getting ‘certificates’ of their own, myself and colleague (Vinchenzo), on the marked bike, followed them towards the county boundary, thus slowing the ride down and lessening the danger of a skid on the now damp roads. We’re not just spoilers of fun, we are genuinely safety conscious!

We rode along with the group up ahead and Vinchenzo at their rear, followed by a clump of traffic then me on the unmarked bike, when a CBR1000 sped past me clearly oblivious to the chequered band around my white helmet and the word POLICE on the back in red.

As he nipped in a couple of overtakes, with me following, he did go just over 70mph briefly, but, apart from the fact he hadn’t seen me, he caused no real concern.

The bike’s number plate was a little small, the letters and numbers were obviously undersize and there was some banding on either side of the plate.

He came up behind the marked bike and managed to spot Vinchenzo clad in yellow (and he is not a slight build) and slowed down.

As I followed them both I could read the number plate on the police bike in front of him easier than his, so he was going to be stopped at the next village for some words of advice and perhaps a vehicle defect form.

The vehicle defect form instructs the offender to get the defect fixed as soon as possible, and if they do so within 14 days, they can get the slip stamped at an MOT testing station and return to us, and that’s it, no further action, defect fixed, no fine everyone’s happy.

Anyone who saw ACAB last month and went on to read my introduction, will be pleased to know that we don’t believe in giving everyone tickets etc. if there are better options.

So, the rider gets stopped and it quickly becomes clear that he has done nothing wrong at all and his number plate is fine… in his opinion.

Having pointed out the size of his letters and numbers, the lack of a British Standard number and a maker’s mark, the option for a vehicle defect form was still there… but this is where it all went a bit wrong along the following lines…

“What is your name and address?”

“It’s on my number plate.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s registered to me.”

“You have committed an offence I require you to give me your name, date of birth and address.”

“I’m not telling you, it’s on my number plate.”

“If you refuse to give your details, you can be arrested”.

“You’re not arresting me…”

Well dear reader, the officers that wear white hats and deal with Road Death are usually quite knowledgeable, and as we all know, knowledge is power; consequently the foolish notion that he could not be arrested led to a few minutes of uncomfortable handcuffing on the footpath while he came to terms with the reality that he could indeed be.

PC Graham Pierce

If you have a sensible question about the police, traffic law etc., you can email me at or you can ask it via the comment box below (if you are reading this on the new HTML web site) because you can bet your last shekel that if it’s been bugging you, someone else wants to know too.

5 thoughts on “Ask a Policeman”

  1. i must admit to finding this rather amusing as a bit of respect costs nothing so i’m not surprised you cuffed him to explain his errors. However even though the bloke was a bit (lot) of a cock with several chips on shoulder, the next time he is involved with a chat with boys in blue, he will probably be even more of a cock from this experience. Will he learn anything from the experience- i doubt it, could you have been a tad more diplomatic in your explanation (as you have done writing here) ? , possibly so, which may have resulted in some of the chips coming off his shoulder and maybe grudgingly a bit of respect. I’ve had my own experiences of good and bad cops (and dated a wpc for several years), and the experience of bad cop does sadly taint the many good ones. Liked the article though.

  2. Dunc,
    Glad you found this amusing, this was written with the amount of space it would take up, (and the boredom factor), taken into consideration; if I had included the proper amount of times he was asked to give his details, and the amount of warnings he was given it may have been several pages long !!!
    Even after arrest and whilst waiting for a van he refused several time to give the information that would have allowed his immediate release.
    Even when arriving at a police station he refused to give his details, but when searched he had a driving licence….. he still refused to give them verbally……you can’t help some people.
    Yes I agree there are good and bad in all employments, but believe me the extra hassle and work involved in this outcome is something we, (I), want to avoid, so warnings and prophesising the future are most certainly given.

  3. Well, I looked at this and sighed, like so many things a moment of stupidity can not only has the potential to cause a serious collision, but it has long term repercussions on public perception. The biker filming did have a view around the bend, but I cannot see how the car driver did, all the coments seem fair and I would like to see a copy of the recording go to the forces professional standards, (complaints), branch.
    It matters not who is driving/riding but some remidial action should be taken.
    Like many calm good natured motorcyclists who get tarred with the brush of fast reckless riders, this has the potential to drag all advanced police drivers down. It would be interesting to know what offence was so important to justify that overtake.

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