New police and immigration powers to seize the driving licences of, what the Home Office describes as, “illegal migrants” are “not a stopping power” according to Home Office Minster Baroness Williams of Trafford.
“These new powers apply to non-EEA nationals only, and authorised officers will be able to seize full and provisional UK driving licences. They will also be able to seize revoked and unrevoked licences; where an unrevoked licence is seized, we will seek to revoke it”.
Writing about the forthcoming pilot scheme for the new powers, she adds:
“The police will pilot the powers in Kent and West Yorkshire. In both areas, the pilot will begin with an initial period of baseline data collection on vehicle stops, during which time the powers will not be in effect. The baseline data will include the reason for the vehicle stop, the outcome of the stop, and some demographic information about the driver. Following the collection of sufficient baseline data, the driving licence powers will be commenced in the pilot areas only, and the police will record additional data on their use of the search and seizure powers, including reasonable grounds (as with Best Use of Stop and Search reporting requirements)”.
After the pilot Williams says that there will be consultation on the guidance issued to police and immigration officers about using the new powers.
In a briefing on the Immigration Bill 2016 as it was passing through parliament, MRN raised concerns about the new power:
“Given the historical issues with stop and search policies, it is likely that ethnic minorities will disproportionately be subjected to driving licence checks, and again mistakes in the system will result in citizens being wrongly arrested. It is doubtful whether the harm caused by denying a group of people in the UK the ability to take driving lessons and pass a driving test which promotes public safety, is outweighed by whatever the supposed benefits are of such a policy”.