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The DVLA is testing 10 roadside cameras that compare the number plates of cars against the DVLA's vehicle tax database, in a drive to recover millions of pounds from drivers that fail to pay their road tax.
The camera, known as Stingray, uses a powerful dual-processor PC to read the number plate on a moving vehicle and search through seven million license fee records to check whether the tax disc is valid.
"The beauty of this system is that it catches people on the move. Many of these people would park off the road at the end of their journey and think they can get away with it," said the DVLA's project manager Hywel Harris.
The DVLA believes that just a small reduction in the number of unlicensed vehicles on the road will cover the cost of the Stingray system. At any one time there are estimated to be 1.5 million unlicensed vehicles on the road, costing the Government £188m in lost revenue and enforcement costs.
The infrared camera is able to read number plates in the dark or in rainy conditions. It stores photographic images of cars evading road tax together with the time and a geographical grid reference from a built-in GPS positioning system on a CD Rom.