Staffordshire Police collect eye-watering £121k in 2020 from crime and crash victims

Cash-strapped Staffordshire Police have collected a whopping GBP121,560 from the victims of vehicle crimes and crashes – in ‘administration fees’. A StokeonTrentLive investigation has found nine garages across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire handled the recovery of 22,607 vehicles in 2020. Recovery operators charged GBP852,550 for their services – with the storage of the vehicles costing a further GBP434,603.

That brings the total to GBP1.28 million. The ‘administration fee’ was charged to motorists whose vehicles had been stolen or damaged and later recovered and those whose vehicles had to be recovered following an accident.

The 2020 charges are broken down as follows:

  • Recovery – GBP 852,550;
  • Storage – GBP 434,603;
  • Total: GBP1,287,153.

One-in-10 car thieves caught

Victims can be reimbursed for the cost of the ‘administration fee’ if the criminal is caught and prosecuted. But latest Home Office data shows nine-out-of-10 car theft cases were dropped in Stoke-on-Trent in 2019/20.

There have been 1,854 car thefts in Staffordshire in the last year – with just 98 resulting in a suspect being charged or summonsed for the crime. In 1,302 cases, the investigation was dropped because no suspect was identified.

Craig and Claire Harvey’s joy at learning their stolen car had been found by police turned to anger after they were told they would need to fork out GBP260 to get their motor back

Crime victim Craig Harvey has hit out at the charge. He was told to cough up GBP260 to get his stolen Volkswagen Polo back after it was taken to a garage for fingerprints.

The force later waived the charge. The 40-year-old forklift truck driver said: “You shouldn’t have to pay – you pay taxes already for the police force. It is just a way of making money.

“It’s just more misery on the victim. You’ve already got this problem of your car being stolen and then you’ve got another problem, you’ve got to pay to get it back. Then on top of that you’ve got to pay for repairs.

“The police told me three times in person that they wouldn’t charge me a penny. So I completely lost trust in the police force after that. “I wouldn’t have minded so much if they’d told me straight away what it would cost, and where it was going.

They didn’t tell me where it was going right away and then you get charged daily for how long it’s there. If I’d known, I’d have taken it home there and then.” Vehicle recovery and storage charges are set by the Government.

There is a GBP150 charge to remove most vehicles. There is then a GBP10-a-day storage fee for ‘two-wheeled vehicles’. This rises to GBP20-a-day for ‘cars and light vans’.

One crime victim has told StokeonTrentLive how the bill to store his motorbike kept going up because of delays in the forensic examination.

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Staffordshire Police collect eye-watering £121k in 2020 from crime and crash victims

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What Staffordshire Police say:

A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “Where a vehicle has been stolen, or is believed to have been used in an offence, we will carry out any necessary forensic examinations before it is then made available to the owner. In these circumstances, there is no storage cost while it is with the force awaiting a forensic examination or police investigation. The force’s control room contacts the registered keeper and provides the details of the recovery garage it has been recovered to so the owner can liaise with the recovery garage to arrange collection.

“Storage charges would only then be applied, in line with the statutory charges set by the Government, if the owner was unable to collect it when the police have completed their enquiries. In these instances, it would remain in storage with a charge applied until the owner arranges recovery or instructs the recovery operator to dispose of their vehicle. In the majority of cases any storage costs are usually picked up by the owner’s insurance company as part of an overall claim. “The force uses approved recovery operators to remove and store vehicles from the highway which have been used in crime or are deemed to have suffered a level of damage from a collision meaning it would be unsafe to drive them.

When a stolen vehicle is located, they are recovered to prevent them being further stolen and to prevent any other damage to the vehicles – such as being set alight. Where possible, forensics will also be carried out on the vehicle. The statutory charges from the recovery operators are then passed to the owner of the vehicle with the force taking a small cost to cover administration fees we incur.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Charges for vehicle recovery are set by individual police forces. However the total amount charged cannot exceed that set out in the police regulations on this matter.” Got something to say about this story?

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