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Vehicle seizures and recoveries

Why has my vehicle been seized or removed?

A vehicle can be seized by police if it is believed that it is being used in a way that causes alarm, harassment or distress (e.g. careless or inconsiderate driving) Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002.

It can also be seized if it is: 

  • being driven by someone who doesn’t have a proper licence or insurance
  • dangerously, illegally or obstructively parked
  • broken down or abandoned

Where a vehicle is seized under Section 165A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the driver will be issued with a notification of Seizure of Motor Vehicle.  On the reverse side of this notice are instructions as to what you need to do.

Your vehicle may have been seized or removed for any of the following reasons: 

  • involved in crime
  • abandoned after an incident involving the police
  • stolen and found by police
  • driven in an anti-social manner
  • involved in a collision

My vehicle has been seized or removed, how do I get it back?

You will need to produce required documents at the enquiry office at either Kempston HQ, Luton Police Station, Lime Street, Bedford or Dunstable Police Station.  View the enquiry office opening times .

You can also produce your documentation in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Police areas.

You will have 14 working days to present your documents at the police station to claim the vehicle back.

Please note: Your vehicle maybe disposed of if it is not collected within this times.

What documentation do I need to take with me when I go to reclaim a seized vehicle?

You will need to take: 

  • the seizure notice issued at the roadside
  • the penalty ticket issued at the roadside (if applicable)
  • proof of ownership of the vehicle.  For example, the V5C registration document. Alternatively, you can produce the new keeper supplement of the V5C or a printed receipt for the vehicle, but these documents will not be accepted on face value and further enquiries may be necessary
  • your driving licence
  • provisional driving licence holders - if you’re driving under a provisional driving licence you must bring someone with you who is over 21 years of age and that person must of held a full UK driving licence for more than three years.  Please also ensure that you have L plates for the vehicle
  • your valid certificate of insurance. This must be specific to the vehicle and the named driver.  Please note that your certificate of insurance will be checked with your insurance provider

If you are unable to produce the original documents, the release of the vehicle may be prevented or delayed and you will incur further storage costs.

All documents must be originals, faxes and photocopies may not be accepted.

We do accept electronic documentation via email, however, this is only when requested by enquiry office staff.

Please note: When obtaining vehicle insurance, any false declarations to an insurance company regarding the type of licence held or previous driving convictions will be investigated and you will be liable to be arrested and prosecuted under either S.2 or S.3 of the Fraud Act. 2006.

What if the enquiry office staff are not satisfied with the documentation that I provide?

If we are not satisfied with the documentation, we may either: 

  • ask you to return with alternative documentation.
  • refer the case back to the police officer who seized the vehicle (or a member of the Roads Policing or Vehicle Recovery Department).

If you are unable to provide satisfactory documentation, the vehicle will not be released. It will be kept for 14 days from the time it was seized, and maybe disposed of.

When will my vehicle be released after it has been seized?

Once we are satisfied that your documentation is in order, we will stamp the seizure notice to authorise the release of the vehicle.  Providing the garage/vehicle compound is open and they are able - you can usually go and collect the vehicle straight away. However, we would advise contacting them first. 

You will need to take all the relevant documentation with you: 

  • photographic ID (if licence has been sent away then take Passport)
  • proof of ownership of the vehicle (a V5C or V5C/10)
  • your valid certificate of insurance 

You will also need to settle any outstanding costs incurred with the Recovery Operator.

We use the following recovery firms: 

Removal by trailer/towing

Vehicles will not be released unless a full and valid Driving Licence and Certificate of Insurance are produced.  Vehicles cannot be claimed by persons stating the seized vehicle will be removed by trailer or towed when valid documents cannot be produced to cover its use on the road.

If a Prohibition Notice has also been issued and repairs need to be completed on the vehicle before the notice can be lifted, the vehicle CAN be removed by trailer/recovery vehicle to premises where repairs will be carried out.

Can someone else reclaim the vehicle on my behalf?

The vehicle must be reclaimed by the person who owned it on the date it was seized by the police.

You cannot sell or give away the vehicle while it is in our custody.

However, the owner/registered keeper can come to the police station with a nominated person to collect the vehicle.  The owner will have to prove that they own the vehicle and the nominated party will have to show that they have the appropriate vehicle insurance cover and valid driving licence.

Please note: the nominated driver cannot use their own comprehensive vehicle insurance.

Can I use a trade or business vehicle insurance policy to claim a vehicle which has been seized?

 Yes, but only if trade or business policies meet the following: 

  • only valid if the vehicle is owned by the policyholder or is in his possession or control at the time of the seizure and it must be listed with the Insurance Company on the policy.
  • if the driver is not shown on the insurance certificate as a nominated driver he must produce evidence that he is employed by the company and the insurance certificate must state that it covers the employees or persons with permission.

The driver should also have declared to the police officer who seized the vehicle that they were driving the vehicle for business purposes.

Please note:  Documents will not be accepted at face value and checks will be  completed with the DVLA and Motor Insurers' Bureau.  We will also make direct contact with your insurance company.

If you have not advised them of any driving convictions or pending convictions, this could lead to your insurer withdrawing cover.

What happens if I do not collect a vehicle which has been seized?

The vehicle will be kept for 14 days after it is seized.

If you do not collect it, we are allowed to dispose of the vehicle on the fifteenth day.

You will  have to pay the statutory recovery fee, 14 days of statutory storage fees and the disposal fee.  This payment could be pursued through court action.

If you intend to collect the vehicle, but have a problem meeting the 14 day deadline you must make contact with the Vehicle Recovery Team by calling 101 as soon as possible.  Failure to make contact within 14 days is likely to result in the disposal of your vehicle.  In exceptional cases, arrangements can be made to keep a vehicle for longer at the cost of the vehicle owner/keeper.

My vehicle was seized.  What if I no longer want to collect my vehicle?

If you don't want your vehicle back, you can disclaim it by completing a form signing the vehicle over to us for disposal.  Once you disclaim the vehicle, further storage costs will not be applied, but you will still be liable for the recovery fee and storage up to that point.

Disclaiming your vehicle can also save you incurring longer storage fees.

You can disclaim your vehicle: 

  • with the police officer who seizes your vehicle
  • by attending either Kempston HQ, Luton Police Station, Lime Street, Bedford and Dunstable Police Station and taking your seizure notice with you

What do I do if my vehicle has been issued with a PG9 prohibition notice, and recovered to a company because it isn't roadworthy or won’t start?

A Prohibition notice (PG9) is a ban on the use of a vehicle on a public road. It will normally be issued where a vehicle is found by an examiner to be, or likely to become, unfit for use or where driving of the vehicle would involve a risk of injury to any person.  These notices are issued by either a police officer or an officer from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

If you have been issued a PG9 and your vehicle has been recovered to a compound, you will need to arrange for a fully trained, equipped and insured vehicle recovery operator to collect your vehicle at your own expense.

You will not be allowed to repair the vehicle in any way whilst it is being held within the compound.

Once the vehicle has been repaired, you will need to arrange for a new MOT certificate to be obtained. You can then take the new valid MOT Certificate, along with the Prohibition notice (PG9) form to a police station where a Removal of Prohibition notice (PG10) will be issued.  The vehicle can then be driven.

For further information the DVSA has published a categorisation of vehicle defects.

How do I collect property from a seized vehicle?

If you want to recover property from a seized vehicle, you will need to get permission from the company who recovered it.  You will need to give them proof that you are the owner or registered keeper of the vehicle (a V5C or V5C/10).

If the vehicle has been seized in relation to a police investigation, you will need to contact the officer in charge of the investigation first.

How much are the recovery and storage costs?

You can find full details about the statutory charges within the:

Road Traffic Act (Retention and disposal of seized vehicles) Regulations 2005 – amended 2008.

These charges are set by the Government and not Bedfordshire Police, and will vary depending upon the weight and condition of the vehicle.

In most cases where the vehicle is not badly damaged or off the road, the charges will be.

Storage costs
 Vehicle   TypeSeizure ChargeRetention Charges
Vehicle equal to or less than 3.5 tonnes MAM  £150  £20 per day
Vehicle exceeding 3.5 tonnes MAM, but equal or less than 7.5 tonnes MAM  £200  £25 per day
Vehicle exceeding 7.5 tonnes MAM, but equal or less than 18 tonnes MAM  £350  £30 per day
Vehicle exceeding 18 tonnes MAM  £350  £35 per day
Two wheeled  vehicle  £150  £10 per day

Payment for the recovery and storage charges of your vehicle will not prevent your prosecution for any offences for which you have or may be reported.

Additional Helpful Information

We would advise you to bring a spare set of vehicle keys with you, just in case the driver of the vehicle didn't leave the vehicle keys within the vehicle.

If the vehicle was involved in a collision and you’re not sure whether it is roadworthy, consider having the vehicle recovered by a professional recovery operator to an approved garage by the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair.

We also highly recommend you taking your vehicle to an approved garage for a safety check if you are collecting your vehicle after it was stolen.

We are unable to advise whether your vehicle is roadworthy.

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