Cloned vehicles entering the London Congestion Zone

Request ID: FOI-1576-1819
Date published: 17 January 2019

You asked

I am seeking the following information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Specifically, the data I would like to request covers cars and vans entering the London congestion charge zone. If possible, I’d like the data to be broken down by month-by-month to show: How many Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued to duplicate or cloned cars and vans over the past financial year? How many Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were cancelled on the grounds they were sent to duplicate or cloned cars and vans over the past financial year? How many Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued to duplicate or cloned cars and vans over the past five financial years? I would like this information as a data set (ideally Microsoft Excel). If some parts of this request are easier to answer than others, I would ask that you release the available data as soon as possible. If you need any clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me. Under Section 16, it is your duty to provide advice and assistance and so I would expect you to contact me if you find this request unmanageable in any way.

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-1576-1819

Thank you for your  request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 11 September 2018 asking for information about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).

Your request has been processed in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you requested. You asked:

How many Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued to duplicate or cloned cars and vans over the past financial year?

How many Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were cancelled on the grounds they were sent to duplicate or cloned cars and vans over the past financial year?

How many Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued to duplicate or cloned cars and vans over the past five financial years?

I would like this information as a data set (ideally Microsoft Excel).

The Congestion Charge operates using Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology. As a vehicle either enters, leaves or drives within the zone its registration is recorded along with a colour image of the vehicle. At the end of the next charging day, when the payment period has expired, the list of vehicles observed in the zone is compared against the vehicles for which a charge has been paid and those which are 100% discounted, exempt from the charge or registered on a Congestion Charging Auto Pay account. Where a match is found the image and record of the vehicle is deleted. If no match is found the details are retained for enforcement purposes.

Prior to issuing a penalty we contact the DVLA who provide us with the registered keeper’s details along with details of the make and model of the vehicle. Prior to issuing the penalty we manually verify that the image of the vehicle observed in the zone matches the vehicle information provided by the DVLA. Only when there is a match is a penalty issued. At the point of issuing the penalty we would not know if a vehicle had been cloned.   

On receipt of the penalty a motorist can follow the representations and appeals procedure and challenge a PCN. If we receive a representation stating a vehicle has been cloned we request evidence to confirm this. Such evidence can include photos of the actual vehicle showing differences between that and vehicle observed in the zone, a police crime reference number or evidence that the vehicle was at a different location when the penalty was incurred. When the evidence is provided and verified the PCN is cancelled.

The attached table details the number of penalties cancelled on the grounds that the vehicle has been cloned. Over the last 12 months we have cancelled around 0.2% of penalties for this reason.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Melissa Nichols

FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

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