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'Swapping penalty points is rife in East Lancashire'
A DRIVING instructor claims there is a major problem with penalty point swapping in East Lancashire because of a legal loophole.
Gary Burrows said like the rest of the UK, East Lancashire motorists were taking advantage of being able to fill in a form that goes unchecked.
The owner of Gary Burrows Driving Tuition in Blackburn said: “Penalty point swapping is a problem all over the UK. It happens in East Lancashire the same way as it does in other parts of the country.
“It is a loophole people have found. As young drivers are restricted by the number of points they can get they will often pass them off to family members without any consequences.
“The wrong people are accumulating the points and not enough bad drivers are being taken off the road.
“You would also be surprised by just how many drivers take to the roads without licences.”
The claim comes as Chris Huhne, the former secretary of state for Energy and Climate Change was jailed for eight months alongside his ex-wife Vicky Pryce on Monday.
The pair, were convicted of perverting the course of justice after Pryce claimed penalty points issued to the former MP in 2003 when he was caught speeding on the M11.
Solicitors are emphasising the seriousness of being caught accepting penalty points for speeding drivers.
Research by the AA suggested that approximately 300,000 drivers in the UK had admitted to having swapped penalty points and more than three million people claimed they knew someone who has persuaded someone else to take their points A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said the force did not think there was much of a problem and refused to comment.
Nick Freeman, a solicitor known as Mr Loophole because of his work with celebrities, told BBC Radio 5Live: “I think people very naively assume that swapping points is not a serious matter and this will ram home the fact that it is actually very serious.
“Without question there will be more out there, this is the tip of the iceberg.
“People do fall out and there will be people who offer to buy your penalty points. There have been investigations in certain towns in Lancashire where there have been several people who have bought points for £200 or £300.”
Mr Justice Sweeney, when sentencing Huhne and Pryce, said: “Offending of this sort strikes at the heart of the criminal justice system.
“As has been observed before, the purpose of the points system is that those who drive badly eventually have to be punished by way of disqualification, which serves to discourage bad driving and thereby to protect the public from it.”
East Lancashire solicitor Andrew Church-Taylor, of Farley’s Blackburn, echoed the sentiments of the court. He said: “Swapping points with anyone is illegal. At the sentence the judge emphasised the fact this type of offence goes to the very heart of the criminal justice system.
“I have heard of cases in the past where people have been convicted of paying individuals to take penalty points.”