asked Her Majesty's Government:
For the last two years for which figures are available, (a) how many vehicles seized under Section 165A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 have had to be returned, and the associated removal costs repaid, because of erroneous information given by the Motor Insurers' Bureau; and (b) how many prosecutions have failed after a valid certificate has been produced in court.
There are as yet no reliable statistics of the number of vehicles which have had to be returned following seizure under Section 165A. Police seized in excess of 150,000 vehicles in 2007, virtually all of which were uninsured. The Motor Insurers' Bureau's current best estimate is that of the order of one or two per 1,000 may have been returned because they proved on further investigation to be covered by valid motor insurance. All insurers consider such cases in accordance with the Financial Services Authority complaints procedure guidelines with, if merited, reimbursement of costs incurred. It is within the operational discretion of the police to release a vehicle without charge.
There are no statistics of prosecutions failed for the reason requested.
The Motor Insurers' Bureau has developed an internet inquiry facility, www.askmid.com, to enable any motorist to verify that their vehicle is recorded on the motor insurers database. Current usage is running at over 2 million inquiries on an annualised basis.