Abandoned vehicles are a problem throughout the whole of the UK. As well as detracting from the visual amenity of an area and often causing direct inconvenience to residents, they are also targets for arson and vandalism.
Under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 (which has since been amended by numerous Acts and Regulations), local authorities have a duty to remove a vehicle that has been abandoned on any open land or on any road to which the public have access and can charge for its removal, storage (if appropriate) and disposal.
The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 has removed the need to place a notice on the vehicle, so an abandoned vehicle can now be taken straight to scrap in most cases.
The owner and/or the individual abandoning it may also be prosecuted for the offence of unlawfully abandoning a vehicle or have the option of paying a fixed penalty notice.
Please note that this is an online form so you won't need to print anything off.
This form should not be used to report an untaxed vehicle unless it is also considered to be abandoned. Untaxed vehicles should be reported to the DVLA on 08000 325 202 or online using the DVLA's online form. Alternatively you can write or send a DVLA witness statement form (PDF, 88kb) to:
DVLA Theale Local Office
You can also report abandoned vehicles by using our report it app.
Vehicles that are legally kept having regard to tax or SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification), that have an up-to-date registered keeper address and that are properly parked, are unlikely to be disposed of without the owner being aware until it is too late to recover it. Vehicles must be taxed, insured and, if more than three years old, have an MOT certificate.
If a vehicle is not kept within the law then the owner runs the risk of it being removed and disposed of by one of the enforcement agencies and is also very likely to incur charges and heavy fines.
Owners sometimes complain that their vehicle was not abandoned but has still been taken and removed by the Council. However, in all such cases, it can be guaranteed that the vehicle has not been legally kept in one or more aspects of vehicle ownership.
There is no legal definition of an abandoned vehicle, in other words the circumstances indicate that the owner has no further interest in it. Although it does not have to satisfy any or all of the following examples, these and similar considerations are used by council officers in deciding whether or not a vehicle has been abandoned:
Out of tax or no SORN
No immediately local keeper
Remained stationary for a period of time
Has been vandalised
Left on land other than that belonging to the owner
A vehicle does not have to meet any or all the above criteria for it to be considered as being abandoned. It is at the discretion of the investigating council officer who will have regard to all the individual circumstances in reaching a decision. For instance, although it would be unusual, a vehicle could be in tax and still considered as abandoned. Conversely, a vehicle that has no tax is not necessarily abandoned.
On receiving the description and location of an allegedly abandoned vehicle the details are reported to the DVLA and the police to establish such information as the registered keeper, expiry date of road tax licence/SORN and if the vehicle has been reported stolen or involved in a crime. If considered potentially abandoned, the vehicle is then inspected and, although not always achieved, the aim is to remove vehicles that are considered to be abandoned together with their contents as soon as possible and no more than two working days after being reported. The vehicle is either then scrapped or stored, but it may be sold to a new owner depending on its appearance and/or likely value. Unless a vehicle is to be sent for auction, once a vehicle is released to the Council’s contractor for disposal, it may be disposed of it as he thinks fit. Therefore, a vehicle taken for immediate disposal may be broken for spares or may, in a few cases, be sold to a new owner.
As an abandoned vehicle is likely to be in poor mechanical condition and the cost of replacing an alarm and door locks is prohibitive, experience shows that the value of an abandoned vehicle is far less than the book price. Therefore, those vehicles that are a wreck, burnt out, or of little value (usually under £1,000) are considered “fit for destruction” and immediately disposed of.
Vehicles that are abandoned and not immediately fit for destruction, such as those of some value (usually over £1,000), are normally removed to a compound for seven days' notice before disposal. The Council sends the last known registered keeper a notice which details the cost for removal, the daily storage charge and the procedure for claiming the vehicle. If the vehicle is claimed within the notice period and all costs are paid then it is returned together with its contents. If the vehicle is not claimed within the seven days, it is disposed of together with its contents. Only vehicles worth more than around £3,000 are sent to auction - the DVLA uses an auction figure of £5,000 when dealing with an untaxed car that has been removed by them from the highway.
Allowing a keeper to claim a vehicle and pay the costs is indicative that the legislation allows for a vehicle to be considered as abandoned even though the keeper wishes to reclaim it.
The last known registered keeper is required to repay the costs of recovering and disposing of the vehicle. In addition, since September 2006, although the Council is now providing owners with the option of paying a fixed penalty fine instead, the keeper is also likely to be prosecuted for abandoning the vehicle.
For safety reasons officers do not remove items from vehicles; needlestick and other injuries are not unknown. Therefore, if the vehicle is disposed of immediately or if a vehicle is not claimed within the notice period, any items it contains at the time of being removed are released to the contractor to dispose of along with the vehicle as he thinks fit, and are not recoverable.
The above vehicle values indicating the action that will be taken in regard to immediate disposal, storage and auction are guidance figures only, for use by council officers, and may also change.
If the vehicle is merely causing an obstruction, report it to Thames Valley Police (0845 8505505). If they are unable to act, the police may still report the vehicle to the Council, so you are also advised to notify the Council direct on 01344 352000.
If the vehicle is suspected of being abandoned, it should be reported to the Council using our Report an Abandoned Vehicle Form or by contacting Customer Services on 01344 352000.
The latest estimate is that 2 million vehicles, about 6 per cent of the UK vehicle fleet, are being driven by uninsured drivers. Whilst there is thought to be no significant change in the number of uninsured vehicles in recent years, the number and amount of uninsured vehicle claims is rising. It is estimated to cost each lawful owner £30 a year on their insurance premium.
Legislation is going through Parliament that will enable the Government to require all vehicles to be continually insured whether in use or otherwise. The police have already been given powers in advance of this to seize and destroy a vehicle that is in use but uninsured.
Bracknell Forest Borough Council is unable to treat all vehicles present in the same place for long periods as being abandoned. If the vehicle is untaxed but is being used or has been claimed by someone who can demonstrate that they are the owner, the DVLA is the relevant enforcement body as the vehicle is untaxed but not abandoned.
The DVLA estimate there are 1.5 million untaxed vehicles in use. They are now aiming to remove 100,000 untaxed vehicles from the road each year with their new contractor NCP, and either bring them into the registration system or destroy them.
If you wish to report a vehicle that appears to be untaxed but is on the highway, either:
If you wish to dispose of a vehicle yourself, you must take it to an authorised treatment facility. Here it will have pollutants such as fuel and engine oil removed, before being sent for destruction. A list of these facilities can be obtained from the Environment Agency at: