The Metropolitan Police is warning learner drivers to thoroughly check their instructor’s background and qualifications after a series of roadside checks found some instructors weren’t properly licensed.

The Driving Standards Agency has undertaken some 30 roadside operations since 2011 in England, Scotland and Wales after revealing that it receives an average of one complaint per day surrounding a suspected illegal instructor.

Vasim Choudhary, a DSA fraud investigator, told the BBC: "They sticker up their car to look like reputable driving schools, and candidates presume they are legal when they are not.

"A qualified instructor will teach you skills which will set you off on your driving career, so you can be a safe driver for life, as opposed to someone who might just teach you skills which are very limited," he said.

Police are also concerned that the illegal instructors have not undergone the required criminal background checks as well as training that ensure all drivers in the United Kingdom are up to the appropriate standards.

Inspector Vince Brady, of the Met roads unit, said: "We talk an awful lot with people around using a licensed minicab, because you've got confidence that that vehicle, that person, is subject to a process and a series of checks.

"It's exactly the same with learner drivers. They're getting into a vehicle with a stranger they may know nothing about."

That past four years has seen 123 suspected illegal instructors arrested but only 39 convicted as it is often difficult to prove in court that money has changed hands between driver and instructor.

Learners are urged to check the DSA-registered badges in the windscreen of cars before undertaking a lesson.

A green badge shows that the instructor is fully qualified and undergoes regular DSA checks.

A pink badge indicates a trainee who can teach for six months while acquiring teaching experience.

The badges should carry the instructor's photograph, a unique reference number and an expiry date.

Leon Poultney


September 25, 2013