Police across Britain have issued a fresh warning to learner drivers to remain vigilant when it comes to hiring a driving instructor. The police have called for learner drivers to check the instructor that they have hired is properly qualified after a number of routine roadside checks found that a number of driving instructors were operating without the necessary qualifications.
Over the last four years at least 123 driving instructors have been arrested on suspicion of providing driving tuition without the appropriate qualifications to do so. Talking to the BBC, the Metropolitan Police revealed that if people are not being taught how to drive properly it could have a detrimental impact on their road-safety in the future.
Since 2011 the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has carried out upwards of 30 roadside operations specifically targeting driving instructors operating illegally across England, Scotland and Wales. On average the DSA receives at least one report per day of a driving instructor operating illegally.
In a statement from DSA fraud investigator, Vasim Choudhary, he said: â€œThey sticker up their car to look like reputable driving schools and candidates presume they are legal when they are not. A qualified instructor will teach you skills, which will set you off on your driving career, so you can be a safe driver for life, as opposed to someone who might just teach you skills which are very limited.â€
As well as illegal instructors failing to prepare learner drivers correctly for life on Britainâ€™s roads, police are also concerned that they will have failed to undergo the necessary criminal background checks.
In a statement from Inspector Vince Brady of the Met roads unit, he said: â€œWe talk an awful lot with people around using a licensed minicab, because youâ€™ve got confidence that that vehicle, that person, is subject to a process and a series of checks. Itâ€™s exactly the same with learner drivers. Theyâ€™re getting into a vehicle with a stranger they may know nothing about.â€
Of the 123 instructors arrested on suspicion of operating illegally, 39 have been convicted. However, the DSA has revealed that they find it difficult to secure convictions as it must be proven that money has been exchanged between learner and instructor.
Over 41,000 approved and trainee driving instructors were operating in England, Scotland and Wales in 2012-13. All registered DSA instructors are required to display an in-date green badge on the windscreen in order to show that they are qualified to provide driving lessons.
Trainee instructors are required to display a pink badge for a period of six months as they acquire the necessary teaching experience to teach learner drivers.
The badges should feature a photograph of the instructor, a unique reference number and an expiration date.
Police are urging learner drivers to be aware of these badges before entering a vehicle with a driving instructor.