Friday 24 Jul 2020
Over 400 policies have been cancelled or voided thanks to a North Wales Police initiative to disrupt criminal activity.
Since starting in 2018, the Force’s Operation Confine has now seen in excess of 400 policies cancelled or voided thanks to the ongoing work by an officer from the Roads Policing Unit working closely with various insurance companies and policing teams to target those who are causing harm in our communities, by identifying and prosecuting those involved in vehicle insurance application fraud.
It’s a criminal offence to fail to disclose material information such as unspent convictions when asked by insurance companies. However, Op Confine isn’t about checking whether an individual has forgotten to mention a minor road traffic offence a number of years ago, it’s very much aimed that those who cause the most harm to our communities and use the road network to facilitate their criminal activities.
Inspector Dave Cust, North Wales Police said: “With increased police use of modern technology, nowadays criminals are forced to insure cars to try and avoid unwanted attention but will often be dishonest about their unspent criminal or motoring history, knowing they would be unable to obtain cover or have to pay for the increased risk they can present to the wider public. When we suspect offences are being committed, we make enquires into whether that particular insurance company have been provided with accurate and truthful information by the policy holder.
“To date, we have caused considerable disruption to criminality through these enquiries. Historically, motor trade policies have often been misused to insure fleets of vehicles but these policies have many restrictions that offenders can fall foul of. By exposing offences, a cancelled policy restricts their activities and makes it increasingly harder for them to obtain cover elsewhere. If they continue to drive without insurance, that then makes it even easier for us to catch to them.”
Craig Conlon, Fraud Manager at AXA Insurance said, “Criminals use all sorts of vehicles, including some that are insured under trade policies, and they usually drive with little regard for road safety. Serious crime thus has a cost that goes beyond financial consequences: it critically affects many lives. Our collaboration with Op Confine is one method of combating and disrupting serious crime.”
The disruption doesn’t end with a cancellation or voidance. Where appropriate, offenders will be prosecuted. To date, 16 convictions have been secured which have resulted in a number of prison terms for fraud or making a false statement to obtain insurance and also driving disqualifications and there are many more pending. Convicted offenders include burglars, violent offenders, fraudsters and drug dealers.
Prolific burglar Craig Lloyd from Maesgeirchen in Bangor was the first to be prosecuted under the initiative. He was convicted of nine counts of fraud by false representation and received a two month custodial sentence in addition to his 16 months sentence for burglary. He was also convicted of driving without insurance and was a given a 12 month driving ban.
There have been some great success stories including a convicted sex offender receiving 12 months in prison for failing to notify a change of address. He was caught after he had three insurance policies cancelled. Unable to get cover, he continued to drive uninsured but was stopped by a Roads Policing Officer who seized his vehicle and reported him. When he was summonsed for the no insurance offence, it was returned unopened with “not at this address” written on the envelope which then instigated an enquiry to locate and arrest him.
Another recent conviction includes Richard Wyn Lewis from Llanfair-yn-Neubwll, Anglesey, who in March this year received a three-month curfew with electronic tagging, £120 fine and 6 penalty points for making a false statement to obtain insurance and driving without insurance.
Inspector Cust added: “Most criminals need to drive and we’ve seen significant members of Organised Crime Groups disqualified so they can’t show off the proceeds of their illegal activities. Hiring luxury vehicles is increasingly popular; this Lamborghini was seized in March after it was found the driver was in breach of the hire policy which specifically excluded drivers with certain unspent convictions.”
Operation Confine has attracted a lot of interest from other UK forces as they seek innovative new ways to disrupt and tackle serious organised crime. The Motor Insurers Bureau, Insurance Fraud Bureau and the insurance industry as a whole are hugely supportive of the initiative and we will continue to work together with their fraud investigators to reduce criminal use of the roads by restricting or denying their ability to drive, as we strive to protect the public and continue in our mission to make North Wales the safest place in the UK.