Investigating Fraudulent Instruction – What Does the DVSA Do About It?
Many of us are aware of the fact that the DVSA does not allow anyone to teach for hire or reward in cars or on motorcycles without having gone through the qualifying tests to become an Approved Driving Instructor (ADi) or are going through the process with sponsorship from an ADi. Trainees are known as PDi’s (Potential Driving Instructors). An ADi or a PDi is issued with a badge or certificate to prove they are allowed to teach and take money for their lessons. Many people think that because they can drive they can teach someone to drive, trust me when I say there is a massive difference between knowing a subject and teaching a subject.
One of the many challenges the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have is combatting illegal driving instruction. I was very interested to read an article written by Andy Rice from the DVSA in their recent Despatch (https://despatch.blog.gov.uk/2016/04/29/what-investigating-illegal-driving-instruction-involves/). It seems that the DVSA have a small team of people who occasionally work with VOSA on the side of the road pulling over various vehicles including learner cars to make sure they are legal to be on the road and the instructor or trainer is licenced to teach. When someone is caught they on the road teaching they are caught red handed with a pupil who will be asked to give a statement. Normally on this kind of exercise the Police are also involved as well as VOSA.
When an illegal instructor is reported to the DVSA by a member of the public or licenced ADi the investigating team need to gather evidence that the person accused of teaching illegally is really teaching and that it is not just a viscous allegation, I have no doubt this happens. Being such a small team covering the country they can stack up a lot of mileage to get the evidence they need. Andy Rice reported that one member of his team had driven approximately 100 miles and then got a call from someone who they believed was a pupil of the illegal driving instructor. The investigator turned around and drove all the way back again to get a statement which would be used as evidence if they took action against the illegal instructor.
Between 2006 and March 2015 the DVSA had 3260 reports of illegal driving instruction. Over half of these ended up with some kind of action. DVSA investigations in this period ended up with,
- 136 arrests
- 39 convictions
- 36 Police cautions
I think we would all agree that getting illegal driving instructors off the road is an important thing to do as not only do they give poor instruction and so produce poor drivers. There is also the chance that something nasty could happen as it is very easy for people to pretend to be a driving instructor to pray on innocent young people. This why all ADi’s and PDi’s have to complete a DBS check (used to be called a CRB check) for previous illegal matters. Aside from all these very serious matters there is also the point that they give professional driving instructors who care about their role in the industry. This kind of driving instructor can be unfairly damaged because of an illegal driving instructor.
“So what happens if someone gets caught” I hear you say. Well it depends, like most things in life and especially in law it depends on the evidence the DVSA can gather and if the person admits what they have been doing. In Andy Rice’s blog he gives an example of a case where his team worked with Northumberland Police and a sentence was given of fraud by misrepresentation 6 months custodial sentence but suspended for 2 years. Apparently the person had tried to become an instructor numerous times but failed and thought he would teach anyway. If stopped by the side of the road an illegal instructor could face losing their car as teaching without the proper certification will invalidate their insurance and so the pupil is driving without insurance which means the car can be taken.
If you suspect someone is teaching illegally you should contact the fraud and integrity team on 0191 2018120 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org