The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) could and should be doing more to tackle illegal drivers on the roads, some of whom hold counterfeit driving licences, says Licence Check.
Whilst it is difficult to estimate the scale of the problem, as there is no data available on the number of counterfeit driving licences in circulation, Licence Check says you only have to search Google to find numerous UK and overseas websites openly selling fake driving licences and other ID documents.
The call comes as the number of victims of identity theft rose by 57% year on year, according to the fraud prevention service Cifas, and it is estimated the annual cost of fraud in the UK is around £193 billion - equal to nearly £3,000 per head of population.
Whilst the finance industry is making moves to stamp out fraud by developing secure verification software such as voice biometrics, other industries are slower to respond, says Licence Check.
It says counterfeit driving licences pose enormous risk to fleet operators, delivery companies, car rental businesses and indeed any organisation that requires its employees to drive.
Richard Brown, managing director of Licence Check, said: “Ensuring an employee holds a valid driving licence is one of the required checks that organisations should carry out, in order to address their duty of care obligation.
“If such basic checks do not take place, employers including senior management may be criminally liable for any deaths or serious injury that occur as a result of a road traffic accident, involving an employee who is driving on company business.
“Whilst many organisations are prioritising driver compliance, some fleet managers with a small number of vehicles, simply take a copy of an employee’s driving licence, without undertaking any further checks. This is worthless, especially when a counterfeit licence can be quickly and easily purchased online.
“The simple answer is for the DVLA to supply third party licence checking providers with more data. For example, each driving licence carries a unique identifier generated by the card manufacturer, which is a unique reference etched into a Driving Licence.
“If the DVLA made the unique identifier available to licence checking providers, an enhanced check could be carried out and lost, stolen or forged cards could easily be flagged up and withdrawn from circulation.
“As the unique identifier is already present on the card itself, simply ‘unlocking’ this dataset would certainly go some way to addressing counterfeit driving licences and ultimately help to reduce illegal driving and identity fraud.”