Stolen blank vehicle registration documents could end up costing taxpayers here £10m, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The theft of the logbooks — which were earmarked for secure destruction — is likely to amount to a total bill of £200m for the UK Government, according to economist John Simpson.
It follows a decision by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to replace all 37 million blue registration certificates (V5Cs) to reduce the risks to motorists of buying stolen or cloned vehicles.
No Northern Ireland documents were in the stolen batches, however the owners of all 926,000 vehicles registered here will be issued with replacement certificates.
Mr Simpson (below) said the “frightening” replacement process would incur a cost of between £5 and £10 for every document.
“This is an unfortunate situation and as a result it will take a very large sum out of the public purse that could be well used for other purposes,” he said.
“In UK terms, it will cost at least £200m — with Northern Ireland’s share hitting up to £10m — to issue replacement vehicle log books.
“Presumably, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will want to investigate the causation and the effectiveness of the remedy proposed.”
The long-standing blue books are now being replaced with new red registration certificates, which have started arriving through letterboxes.
Along with new red logbooks, thousands of motorists received a leaflet from the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) urging them to destroy their blue V5C forms.
A Department of the Environment spokesman said the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland acts on behalf of the Swansea-based DVLA, which prints and dispatches all UK vehicle registration documents.
“In 2006, a batch of blank V5C vehicle registration documents were stolen after being returned to DVLA's printing contractors for secure destruction,” he said.
“There were no Northern Ireland documents in the stolen batches, but to minimise risk DVLA took the decision to replace all V5C registration documents, including those used in Northern Ireland.”