A conman who deliberately caused a crash with a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) to make fraudulent insurance claims has been jailed for a year.
Tariq Mehmood was handed the 12-month sentence at Harrow Crown Court on 25 January.
His fellow gang members Ansab Rizwan and Ihtisham Gondal each received suspended sentences and 180 hours of unpaid work for their parts in the scam, while Nasser Khan – also involved – was given a 12-month community order and 100 hours unpaid work.
The scam was exposed using CCTV footage from the HGV’s in-cabin camera, supplied by their Insurance Company.
The footage showed a black Volkswagen Golf working in tandem with a blue Mercedes to induce the crash.
The Insurer referred the case and the footage to the police, and a joint investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Catcher team and the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) linked members of the criminal gang to induced crashes in Bedfordshire.
Investigators also identified an associated claims management company, which has since ceased trading.
Ben Fletcher, head of operations at the IFB, said the sentences the men received were testament to the insurance industry’s determination to help the police catch and convict fraudsters.
He added: “Fraudsters are putting innocent motorists in danger by deliberately causing crashes across the UK.
“This type of fraud is also costing the insurance industry almost £400 million every year, which in turn inflates premiums for honest policyholders.”
Without the footage, it would have been very difficult for the client to prove this was a ‘crash for cash’ scam.
Todd & Cue can assist you should In-Cab cameras be appropriate for your business
Police given powers of on-the-spot penalties for careless driving including tailgating and poor lane discipline.
Changes giving the police powers to issue fixed penalty notices for careless or inconsiderate driving have came into effect on 16 August 2013.
Careless drivers who put other road users at risk by committing offences such as tailgating or poor lane discipline will face on-the-spot penalties.
The changes give the police greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences, freeing them from resource-intensive court processes.
Existing fixed penalty levels for most motoring offences – including using a mobile phone at the wheel and not wearing a seatbelt – rise to £100, bringing them into line with penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties.
Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond said:
Careless driving puts innocent people’s lives at risk – that is why we have made it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice for low level offending rather than taking these offenders to court.
We have also increased penalties for a range of driving offences to a level which reflects their seriousness and which will ensure that they are consistent with other similar penalty offences.
The fixed penalty for careless driving is now £100 with 3 points on the driver’s licence. The most serious examples will continue to go through court, where offenders may face higher penalties.
The police will also be able to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement. Drivers will still be able to appeal any decision in court.
Fixed penalty levels for most of these motoring offences have not increased since 2000, making them lower than other penalties of a similar severity.
The changes – which were announced earlier this year – are being introduced following extensive public consultation with road safety groups and police forces.
There are no changes to penalty levels for parking offences.
A Suffolk-based freight company has been sentenced for a series of safety breaches after a forklift truck toppled and spilled its load onto a worker, breaking his back.
Neil Jennings, 56, of Ipswich, was waiting for his trailer to be loaded in the yard of Eagle Freight Terminal Ltd at its Great Blakenham premises when one of the forklifts doing the loading hit a pothole. The vehicle lurched sideways, shedding its pallets and boxes, one of which hit Mr Jennings.
He suffered multiple fractures to the vertebrae of his upper and middle back and was unable to work for several weeks. Mr Jennings can now only undertake light duties and can no longer carry out everyday tasks without pain and discomfort.
The incident, on 9 January 2012, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which today prosecuted Eagle Freight Terminal Ltd at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court.
HSE found that the freight yard road surface was pitted with potholes and had been the subject of complaints by the company’s employees over a significant period. There was little management of traffic movements and no instructions provided regarding segregation of workplace transport and pedestrians.
The court was told that two Improvement Notices were served by HSE on Eagle Freight after the incident requiring them to remedy the condition of the yard’s surface and to introduce systems of control which would allow vehicles and pedestrians to circulate safely at the site. Despite two extensions of time to allow the remedial work to be completed, an inspection carried out in September 2012 revealed no work had been completed and neither of the Notices had been complied with.
Ipswich Magistrates’ Court heard that the company had been subject to similar enforcement action by HSE as far back as 2002/3 about the lack of control of workplace transport.
Eagle Freight Terminal Ltd of Lodge Lane, Great Blakenham, Ipswich, was fined a total of £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,501.23 plus £120 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Regulation 9(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Regulation 17(1) of the Workplace [Health, Safety and Welfare] Regulations 1992 and for failing to comply with two Improvement Notices.
After the case, HSE Inspector Paul Grover, said:
“This was an entirely preventable injury caused by persistent disregard by Eagle Freight of basic safety measures. The company allowed the yard’s surface to deteriorate so badly that forklift trucks were regularly destabilised when carrying loads.
“There was also no system to allow vehicles and pedestrians to move safely around each other and the forklift truck driver had not been given suitable training which resulted in him using unsafe work practices where the truck was driven with the forks and load lifted.
“The company’s subsequent repeated failure to meet the requirements of the two improvement notices demonstrated their complete disregard for their legal responsibility to keep their employees, and non-employees visiting the site, safe.
“The risks of serious injury and, all too frequently, death, resulting from the failure to control the safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians are widely recognised.
“Putting safe working practices in place is often simple and inexpensive and where this doesn’t happen the costs, both financial and personal, can be immense.”
The Department for Transport increased fixed penalty levels will increase from today. The changes are being introduced following a public consultation which took place in 2012 including road safety groups and police services.
As well as affecting motoring offences, these changes also increase graduated fixed penalties and financial deposits for vans, trucks and buses. Offences against roadworthiness, loading and drivers’ hours rules will result in higher penalties at the roadside.
- a £30 fine will rise to £50
- a £60 fine will rise to £100
- a £120 fine will rise to £200
- a £200 fine will rise to £300
VOSA Chief Executive Alastair Peoples said, “These new penalty levels are intended to ensure penalties reflect the seriousness of the offence and are consistent with those in other areas of offending. I know the majority of operators and drivers work within the law, but those that don’t need to know there are increased financial consequences and they should reconsider if it’s worth the risk.”
Increases will also be made to the maximum deposit that we can take at the roadside from offending overseas vehicles. Penalty points will not change.
VOSA’s Guide to Graduated Fixed Penalties and Financial Deposits for the new fees.
There was a significant rise in the number of people killed as a result of drink driving in 2012 compared with the previous year, according to the Department for Transport.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists had disclosed earlier this year that the Government’s spending on road safety campaigns had fallen from £19 million in 2008-9 to only £4 million in 2011-12.
Additionally, the Department for Transport spent £1.7 million on drink-drive related advertising in the last financial year, which is only half of the £3.4 million spent in 2009-10.
According to the latest estimates, which the Department for Transport does insist are only provisional, the number of people killed as a result of drink-driving rose to 290 in 2012 from 230 in the previous year. This represents an increase of over 25%.
The Department for Transport admitted it had made cuts as part of the need to deliver efficiency savings, but that it was targeting its campaigns where it thought they would have the greatest impact.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, had this to say: “Drink drive deaths are the ultimate indicator of success in dealing with the problem and these figures are worrying there is no doubt cutting back on advertising could be one of the reasons why this has gone up.”
Nearly a third of those killed in drink-drive accidents were other road users, who were not necessarily over the limit.
The AA’s president, Edmund King, elaborated: “Drink driving is a menace to everyone on our roads and it is very disappointing to see that the estimated number of fatalities as a result of drunk drivers has increased.
“Behind every statistic is a personal tragedy that could have been avoided for these 290 people.
“The increase in drink drive deaths in 2012 could be linked to more opportunities to drink and then drive during the ‘summer of sport’ from the Euro 2012 football tournament through to the Olympics in July and August.
“Road safety publicity budgets, both nationally and regionally, have also been slashed so this may have had a knock on effect as police enforcement has remained fairly consistent. “We need to keep reinforcing the message that drinking and driving don’t mix. All drivers need to take heed of this and ensure that if they are going to be driving, that they adopt a zero tolerance approach and don’t drink anything alcoholic at all.
“If you are going to drive don’t drink and if you are going to drink, don’t drive.”
The Government’s record was defended however by Norman Baker, the local transport minister, who pointed out that the figures were still provisional. He said: “These latest figures are provisional, but any road death is one too many and we are absolutely not complacent when it comes to road safety,” he said. “That is why we are taking forward a package of measures to streamline enforcement against drink-driving, including approving portable evidential breath-testing equipment which will allow for more effective and efficient enforcement.”
The Highways Agency has announced it is to crack down on motorists who use the hard shoulder for situations other than an emergency.
A scheme to monitor the use of hard shoulders on motorways has been launched as a joint initiative between the agency and the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG). It will see increased police patrols.
Motorists found to have stopped illegally will most likely receive a warning letter and educational leaflet. Dangerous use of the hard shoulder could result in fines and licence points however.
The scheme will initially cover motorways around Birmingham – the area has been highlighted as a particular hotspot for hard shoulder misuse.
In 2012 there were 8,655 cases of drivers stopping on hard shoulders in non-emergency situations. Reasons given to Highways Agency officers included stopping to take photographs and pick flowers from embankments.
One driver even stopped after he realised his car insurance was about to expire, so he could ring around for quotes before moving on.
Prof Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation said: “Around one in 10 motorway fatalities occurs on the hard shoulder and accidents here tend to be most severe because of the killer combination of stationary vehicles being hit by those travelling at very high speeds.”
Head of roads policy at the AA, Paul Watters, also highlighted the importance of the issue. He said: “Hard shoulders are dangerous places and are for real emergencies. The fact that some drivers actually choose to stop on them for trivial reasons or lack of forward planning is foolhardy and puts them and others at risk.”
According to a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request by the Institute Of Advanced Motorists (IAM) 226,803 drivers in the UK have points on their licence for driving without insurance.
This increases to 1 in every 100 people with a full licence for the 17-35 age bracket. In the 17 – 24 age bracket men are four times more likely than women to drive uninsured. People in the 25-35 age bracket are the most likely to drive uninsured representing nearly 36% of those convicted.
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “These findings are shocking. Those 200,000 individuals who drive whilst uninsured place the burden back on those who abide by the law through higher premiums and potentially the cost of vehicle repair.
It could be more
“The most concerning fact is that this could just be the tip of the iceberg, as these numbers only represent those who have been caught and penalised. Insurance fraud and uninsured driving are also growing problems that need to be tackled through a coordinated approach from enforcement authorities. It is not acceptable that drivers pay up to £70 in higher premiums to compensate for those who ignore the law.”
The HGV Road User Levy Act became law on 28 February 2013 paving the way for a fairer deal for UK hauliers.
Most EU states already charge lorries for using their roads which means that British vehicles have to pay to drive in Europe, while foreign lorries can drive in the UK without paying for the wear and tear they cause on the roads.
The new charge is supported by UK businesses and will be introduced in April 2014. The levy will be a time-based charge of up to £1,000 a year or £10 a day and will apply to lorries weighing more than 12 tonnes, using UK roads.
By law, the scheme cannot discriminate between UK-registered vehicles and vehicles from elsewhere in the EU so this charge will apply to all lorries but, for the vast majority of UK hauliers, this will not mean an increase in costs as they will be compensated through a reduction in vehicle excise duty.
Roads Minister Stephen Hammond said:
Every year there are around 1.5 million trips to the UK by foreign registered lorries but none of them pays to use our roads, leaving UK businesses and taxpayers to foot the bill. In contrast, when UK hauliers travel abroad then in most cases they have to pay to use the roads.
This new act will help the UK logistics industry remain competitive by making sure that operators from abroad are paying towards the cost of building and maintaining the UK’s roads as well as creating a level playing field for domestic operators.
UK hauliers will pay an annual or a 6 monthly charge for each lorry at the same time and in the same transaction as they pay its Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). Foreign hauliers can pay daily, weekly, monthly or annual charges. Non-payment of the charge will be a criminal offence, which could result in a fine of up to £5,000.
Following hot on the heels of Carlos Tevez recent conviction, Newcastle United midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa has been disqualified from driving after pleading guilty to driving without insurance.
Newcastle Magistrates Court heard how on the 6th September 2012 Ben Arfa sped past a police car in his Mercedes at around 110mph in a 70mph area, without insurance on his vehicle. He pleaded guilty to this offence and that of speeding, via an interpreter. He was fined £5100 and given a 49 day driving ban.
Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez managed to avoid a prison sentence today, after pleading guilty to driving while disqualified, at Macclesfield Magistrates’ Court.
He was disqualified from driving on 16th January, until May 25th, but acting on information received from an anonymous caller, Police were called to the Mottram Hall Hotel and Golf Club in Cheshire at around 4pm on March 7th. He was seen getting into and driving off in a white Porsche Cayenne around 5pm. Upon being arrested he told the officer “I only live down the road. Two minutes.”
Tevez was banned for a further six months, fined £1000 plus costs and ordered to do 250 hours community service. The maximum sentence for the offence being six months in prison.
The incident has prompted an outcry by the MIB on uninsured drivers, stating that the striker faces joining a “disgraced squad of footballers who have dropped the ball when it comes to car insurance”
Ashton West, MIB CEO, said “Footballers hold a unique position in our society – her worshipped from the pub to playground. Given their profile and status, you would expect footballers to take their role-model positions amongst younger males more seriously. Every driver is responsible for making sure appropriate motor insurance is in place. No-one is above the law”.