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What Do The Police See When They Run Your Plates UK?

Part of policing is ensuring that our roads are safe to drive, by making sure road users are legally compliant. Without the police, our roads would be full of unlicensed drivers, and many more dangerous drivers.

But aside from the obvious signs, how do the police know a vehicle should be stopped? One way is by scanning your number plate.

In this blog, we will answer the question ‘What do the police see when they run your plates UK?’

Bespoke Plates is a renowned and legally certified registration platemaker and installer, with options of 3D Plates, 4D Plates, Show Plates, regular / Electric Vehicle Plates and more. We are the one-stop shop for all things registration plates!

Whether it’s a Private Plate, Gel Plate, Standard Registration Plate or plating accessories, we have you covered.

As a certified and experienced team of plate fitters and makers, our plates are installed to the specification of UK law, provided alongside the appropriate paperwork you require. (The only exception to this is show plates.)

Can the police stop you because of your number plate?

Can the police stop you because of your number plate?

Yes. You can be stopped by the police because of your number plate before an ANPR is even used. This is in situations such as…

  • You have one or no number plate on your vehicle.
  • Your number plate is obscured.
  • Your number plate does not fall within the legal stipulations of number plates.
  • Your number plate is broken.
  • You are clearly using a show plate.

Regarding the legality of number plates, the rules are as follows. Your plates must…

  • be made from a reflective material.
  • display black characters on a white background (front plate).
  • display black characters on a yellow background (rear plate).
  • not have a background pattern.
  • be marked to show who supplied the number plate.
  • be marked with a British Standard number—this is ‘BS AU 145e’ for plates fitted after 1 September 2021.

The characters must not be removable or reflective. If your number plates were fitted after 1 September 2021, they must also be a single shade of black.

Your number plates can also:

  • have 3D (raised) characters.
  • display certain flags, symbols, and identifiers.
  • display a green flash, if you have a zero-emission vehicle.

In conjunction with these rules, certain 3D and 4D number plates are a totally legal option for you to choose from. This means that custom number plates are not completely relegated to show plates.

Any customisation that breaches these rules will result in your plate becoming a show plate.  Show plates are illegal to use on a vehicle.

Any reputable plate manufacturer such as Bespoke Plates will tell you immediately when your customisation has crossed the legal threshold.

What do the police see when they run your plates UK?

Are stealth number plates legal?

By using ANPR, also known as ‘Automatic Number Plate Recording’ the police are able to see the details of your number plate amongst the national database. From this, the police can see…

  • If the number plate is registered to the vehicle they see in front of them.
  • Tax and MOT status.
  • Insurance status.
  • If the searched number plate is on the database for any points of interest.

As time progresses, the amount of information that can be accessed may increase, please keep this in mind.

If any of these aforementioned issues highlight a problem, the police can stop you and continue their investigation. Understandably, some drivers may not be aware of the issues that have been discovered by the ANPR, whether they have just purchased the car, or are entirely unaware of the issues as they don’t often use the car.

Whatever the case, the police will undertake a thorough investigation and determine the best course of action as a result of it. This can include fines, arrest, points on the licence, towing of the vehicle, and more.

Can police stop your vehicle if they don’t use ANPR?

Yes. The police can stop your vehicle, however they must provide a specific reason. They must be in uniform and the requirement to stop your vehicle must be made on a road. If an officer has stopped you without providing any reason at all, it would be advisable to request their senior.

To avoid any instances of your word against theirs, having dashcams is the best course of action. One facing the road, one facing your interior, and one facing the road behind you.

This means that there is video evidence. If they claim to have stopped you for driving inappropriately, or using your phone whilst driving etc, the video from your dashcam will provide the truth.

What are my rights during a vehicle stop?

If you are stopped in your vehicle by the police, you are not legally obligated to…

  • Step outside your vehicle
  • Turn off your vehicle
  • Provide documents other than those that are legally required.

Vehicle stops can not be made purely on the basis of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or faith, as part of the Equality Act 2010.

Code A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 enables you to request a receipt or the details of an officer who stopped you. The officer must provide it immediately, unless they must deal with another urgent matter. If this is the case, they must clearly give you a time and place to collect the receipt/details later.

Receipts must not be refused from an officer, it can not be denied because it will take long, or they need to search other people during the stop. Receipts can serve as a form of evidence for a complaint about an officer’s actions, so their denial to provide one may be a red flag.

If you feel that you have been mistreated by the police, you can find a guide on creating a formal complaint here. Once again, having video evidence in your vehicle at all times is one of the best ways to deal with false allegations against you, and will help to support your claim if you lodge a formal complaint.

Order a legal number plate online

Order a legal number plate online

Getting your own bespoke custom number plate is relatively simple. In most cases, you can even do it from the comfort of your own home! If you opt to use Bespoke Plates, you can order a custom number plate directly from our website.

Let us walk you through the process of choosing your plate through us.

  1. Head to the Bespoke Plates website
  2. Select the plate style you want under the “Build Your Plate” tab. Alternatively, you can follow this link.
  3. Enter your registration (You can press ‘preview’ to see your registration with all the modification options you have selected.)
  4. When selecting your chosen plate, you can opt for 3D/4D options, a Hex plate, and whether you want a legal plate or a show plate.
  5. Select preferred optional accessories.
  6. Decide if you are collecting with installation, or if you want it to be delivered.
  7. Confirm your order!

Installing through Bespoke Plates ensures the best service & secure installation for your number plate, along with guidance for any questions you may have.

Purchase a number plate today

In this blog, we have highlighted our plate options and the information you need to obtain our stylish customisation options for your vehicle. We aim to have confidently displayed everything you need to know regarding the question ‘What do the police see when they run your plates UK?’

We hope that we have provided all the right answers and options for all of your plate modification needs.

Bespoke Plates has all the options you can ask for, as an approved registration vendor we can guarantee your modification abides by the DVLA rules whilst offering same-day collections and full fitting service.

To get in touch and discuss the full fitting service we offer with our plates, you can talk to one of the members of our team by:

Email info@bespoke-plates.co.uk

Phone 0333 006 7878

Visit in-store

36A Broughton Street,


M8 8NN

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