Operation targets tachograph offenders on Nottinghamshire roads

More lorry drivers caught tampering with their tachographs have been brought to justice thanks to a successful ongoing operation in Nottinghamshire.

Tachographs are on-board digital recorders which record information about driving time, speed and distance. They are used to make sure drivers and employers follow the rules on drivers’ hours.

So far this year officers have found six tachograph manipulation devices fitted to HGVs travelling on Nottinghamshire’s roads.

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In three of these cases, where use of the devices could be proved, the prosecuted drivers received prison sentences. The others were fined.

Last year 49 devices were found to have been fitted to vehicles on the county’s roads. In 33 of these cases use of the devices was proved, with 31 drivers being sent to prison and two receiving cautions.

Police say offenders continue to be brought to justice as a result of Operation Routine - a joint initiative involving the East Midlands Operational Support Service (EMOpSS), the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and Highways England.

Sergeant Steve Warren, of EMOpSS, said: “This joint operation was launched to improve road safety within the HGV community.

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“The tachograph records driver and vehicle activities including driving, other work, availability, rest and speed and motion to ensure that they are adhering to EU and UK law under the Transport Act.

“HGV drivers are required, by law, to adhere to European regulations which stipulate set working times and breaks. However, the manipulation to the HGV’s tachograph could in theory allow a driver to drive 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

“The manipulation device can affect the mileage being recorded on the vehicle; the speedometer will often drop and remain at zero. It means the HGV can travel at any speed, as the speed limiter is de-activated, and no other activity is recorded. The vehicle and its braking systems are fooled into believing that the vehicle is not moving.

“Where we find devices and we can prove they have been used and the driver had knowledge we will then make arrests and, where appropriate, charge.”

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PC Paul Matthews, from the Tactical Road Policing Team covering Nottinghamshire, added: “Operation Routine has had a high success rate so far but we are not complacent.

“This is an ongoing issue and we will continue to target people committing offences which can cause serious and potentially fatal consequences on our region’s roads.

“So far we’ve had a 100 per cent success rate in relation to when we’ve believed a vehicle’s tachograph to have been tampered with it has been.

“The DVSA can only issue fines but every case we’ve prosecuted has either resulted in the offender receiving a prison sentence or a prison sentence and a disqualification.

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“There have been fatal collisions in Europe where these tachograph manipulation devices have been used. There was one last year in Lithuania where a device was found so we know they are involved in serious and fatal collisions.”

As part of their work EMOpSS officers are also sharing information and knowledge with other law enforcement agencies across Europe.