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Help us to stamp out illegal driving instruction

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Blue light on a police vehicle

Firstly, I want to thank those of you who have reported an illegal driving instructor to DVSA.  These reports are vital and help us to bring the criminals who abuse the driving test system to justice.

As an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), you're in the perfect position to know what to look out for and how to spot an illegal driving instructor. If you suspect someone is charging for lessons when not qualified and registered then please let us know. You can contact us on 0191 201 8120 or

The danger illegal driving instructors pose

As the Head of DVSA’s Fraud and Integrity team – and as a parent - illegal driving instructors are a real concern to me. These people pose a danger to the pupils they teach and to road safety as a whole. They haven’t proven their ability to teach and haven’t had the necessary criminal record checks. They also threaten the livelihoods of genuine instructors.

Investigating the problem

From 2006 to March 2015, we received 3,260 reports of illegal driving instruction. We investigate all cases reported to us and try to gather all the evidence needed before we take action.

If there’s enough evidence we’ll work with the police to take the case to the Crown Prosecution Service. I’m happy to say that over half of the people arrested so far have been convicted or have received a police caution.

Information we need from you

There are a small number of cases reported to us which can’t be investigated, as we don't have enough information to identify the individual. So it's important that you give us as much information as possible when reporting a case to give us the best chance of a successful investigation.

When making a report, it’s always helpful if you could tell us the following:

  • type and colour of car
  • registration number
  • description of the individual giving instruction
  • date and time seen
  • street name where seen (if known)

We may not be able to tell you the results of our investigations as they often take time and involve personal data. However, we do try to publicise cases when our investigations result in convictions.

If we don't take action it could be because it has been difficult to prove that money has changed hands. Proving instruction has taken place can be easy, but proving that payment has been taken can be harder. There are many ways that illegal instructors can be paid that are undetectable to our investigators.

We can prove that payment has been made by asking the pupil to provide a statement and to give evidence in court. But this can sometimes be problematic as young people can be reluctant to give evidence in court. They can understandably find the prospect of it quite daunting.

Roadside checks

Our investigations can also include targeted operations with the police. We target areas where we’ve received a number of reports of suspected illegal instruction. We also occasionally carry out covert surveillance on an individual suspect.

During road side checks, the police stop ‘L’ plated cars and DVSA investigators talk to instructors and confirm whether they are an ADI. For this reason it’s essential that you display your ADI badge on your windscreen.

If an instructor turns out to be illegal, it’s likely that the police officer will arrest them. They could also face losing their car if they are found to be teaching illegally as their car insurance can be null and void.

Illegal instructors can have cars sign written and have top-boxes. The only way we can be certain to catch them is to stop all ‘L’ plated cars.

The DVSA investigator can find out whether the instructor is illegal by doing a few simple checks. There may be times when you yourself get stopped which may be inconvenient. But I'd ask you for your patience and understanding. These checks help us to get illegal instructors off the road.

The results

From 2006 to 31 March 2015, DVSA investigations into illegal driving instructors resulted in:

  • 136 arrests
  • 39 convictions
  • 36 police cautions

To stay up to date:

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  1. Comment by barry posted on

    keep doing roadside stops in and around tooting,mitcham,croydon there are loads of them

  2. Comment by Wyn Owen posted on

    I wholeheartedly agree as an ADI.
    However the statement "They haven’t proven their ability to teach" is misleading as long as non-qualified persons are allowed to accompany and teach learner drivers (parents & friends). They pose as much danger as illegal driving instructors -no difference whatsoever in their ability to teach.

    • Replies to Wyn Owen>

      Comment by R E MANNING posted on

      As an ex Driving examiner I am sure I am more than qualified to teach than some ADI Instructors I was one of the very first to get my ADI certificate obviosly it was taken from me when I took up examining but when I was forced to retire due to my age (io years ago) I was told I woul have to re take all the tests again WHICH i just could not afford the fees for the exams ,over the last five years Ihave taught five of my grand children who all passed first time I hold HGV class one C+E and PCV LICENCE no points no convictions in over 60years shoul DSA return my ADI STATUS ?
      also full PCV LICENCE I feel that DSA shoul at least given me my ADI licence back ,as I was still
      employed by dsa to examine all types of drivers including PCV AND LGV

    • Replies to Wyn Owen>

      Comment by Roger posted on

      Indeed. I can see why driving ADIs want to run a closed shop, but this isn't about quality of instruction or qualifications - of which none is required beyond holding a license for a few years - it's purely about money changing hands.

      Contrast with motorcycle instruction which can only be done by ticketed ADIs, with the learner also committing an offence if it turns out that the 'instructor' isn't on the books, or even if they just don't have their certificate on their person.

      Bit of consistency, please.

    • Replies to Wyn Owen>

      Comment by Sally Davies posted on

      Absolutely... as I have reiterated in my addition to the blog... our job is not "easy money" we earn it!!

  3. Comment by Sally Davies posted on

    All the while the general public are allowed to supervise learner drivers then it will be difficult to stamp out. As soon as they sit next to a learner they think it's easy to play driving instructor with no training whatsoever! We go through alot to get and keep our licence yet the general public can teach their kids and others in non dual controlled cars with no training. This leads to contempt of those of us that work hard to keep up our grade and keep our licence because people think it's easy money and anybody can do it. Dangerous and needs to be stopped...but they will all have to stop. Professional lessons would need to become compulsory

  4. Comment by Clowder Herdsman posted on

    I have no connection with driving tuition, [I passed my test 60 years ago], and merely read this report from mild interest, but it seems to me that the whole thing revolves around protection of the livelihoods of 'ADI's and the interests of the burea[c]rats who used public funds to achieve just 36 police cautions! I wonder what was the cost and how many hours of police time....per caution?
    As noted in a previous comment, [by an ADI!] it is perfectly legal [in fact demanded by law] for a person holding a full licence to accompany a learner driver.
    I wonder just how many learners have passed the driving test without licenced tuition over the years, and as it is deemed 'dangerous', how many have passed the test after just a few hours of licenced tuition, with no extra practice?.
    There are references to 'dangers' involved.......surely the Driving Test Examiners are more than qualified to decide whether an examinee is competent to drive unaccompanied?
    As this comment is posted to a Government blog I believe it will not find it's way into the public domain, after all, it will be under control of the aforesaid bureau[c]rats, but at least THEY will know that at least one poster will have the ability to read between the lines!.

    • Replies to Clowder Herdsman>

      Comment by Rob Stephens posted on

      Nail on the head I think! Well said.

      • Replies to Rob Stephens>

        Comment by Tony posted on

        I also agree, if unqualified teaching is dangerous then unpaid unqualified teaching is also dangerous. It really doesn't make sense, and other laws cover if the cars are in bad shape and if students get taught the wrong thing they will fail their test.
        I do agree with licencing though and this is sublty different, all professions should be licenced as a quality control to allow complaints and monitoring rather than bodge and dissappear.
        There are other inconsistencies, eg gas safe, I think you can take your own risk apparently as long as its your own equipment/house, so this princple is similar to allowing unpaid 'potentially dangerous work'.

    • Replies to Clowder Herdsman>

      Comment by David posted on

      I would like to help my daughter pass her car test - by sitting next to her while she practices. Oh, and if she makes a mistake I would offer adice. As a driver with some 40 years experience I have some knowledge of road craft. Is this now illegal for me to do this? Or is it still permitted as long as no money changes hands. Should I expect hassle from our local police force as I do not have a ADI ticket - just a full lisence.
      I need to know if the law has been changed to effectively prevent me from helping my daugher to learn to drive. ( by accompanying her while she practices.) I could save a lot of money by taking her off the car insurance

      • Replies to David>

        Comment by Andy Rice posted on

        David, the law requires that if you provide driving instruction for money or monies worth you must be registered as an Approved Driving Instructor with DVSA.

        However others can provide driving instruction if they do not take any payment or payment in kind, but the supervisor must be over 21 years of age and have held a full Great Britain (GB), Northern Ireland or European Community/European Economic Area (EC/EEA) driving licence (for the type of vehicle you are using) for a minimum of three years.

        Therefore parents can still assist their children while they learn to drive as long as they meet the above requirements.

  5. Comment by Sean posted on

    What about Lorry and bus instructors? They don't even need a qualification to teach. What's worse unqualified teaching in a car or unqualified teaching truck and bus? You have all your priorities wrong here!!!

  6. Comment by Mick Ogden posted on

    Right/Wrong, the law states that any person meeting the correct criteria and legal requirements to accompany a learner driver can do so.
    Over the years I have found that pupils who have the benefit of being able to gain more driving hours through extra experience with mum or dad, seem to make more progress than those who don't.
    So rather than dissing each argument, what about encouraging and structuring a combination of both, with the ADI taking the lead and advising the parents as to the methods of tuition.
    Yes we need to clamp down on illegal driving instruction, but not on assisted instruction as stated above.

  7. Comment by Paul posted on

    I think driving instructors should have different licence plates so would stop all this, issued by dvsa. Would prove without a doubt the teacher is not a fraudster.

  8. Comment by Trevor posted on

    I own and run a motorcycle training school. Recently one of our students was contacted via Facebook by a " DVLA examiner" whatever that is and offered a motorcycle licence for money. The person involved also offers driving licences , LGV and points removal. I have contacted both DVSA and DVLA and neither were interested. In neither case could I actually get through to the relevant department as one never answers and the other has to go through the call centre which is a dead loss

    • Replies to Trevor>

      Comment by Andy Rice posted on

      Thank you for your comment Trevor. Should you wish to report any illegal activity connected to the driving test or learning to drive we do want to hear from you. You can contact DVSA’s Fraud & Integrity Team on 0191 201 8120 or by email to All reports will be investigated.

  9. Comment by Joseph Albert Matchett posted on

    Licensing is simply a method of government control and a great source of indirect taxation.

    It's time DVLA where taken to court over several of their imposed laws, rules and guidelines.
    Despite killing over 20 and crippling over 100 HGV class 1 drivers,
    who followed the way the DVLA books taught them to couple tractor units to artic trailers.
    DVLA are still preaching and teaching the same method to today's new trainees.

    I would not employ a driver who uses the DVLA method of coupling tractor units to trailers.
    Signed: Albert Matchett. C+E since 1973 & M.D. Fast Track Drivers Ltd

  10. Comment by Clowder Herdsman posted on

    My thanks to the thoughtful Sean, Tony, and Rob for their agreement with my comments, [I expected some bleating about dangers etc. from the oviform individuals amongst us] but I ALSO offer my compliments to the reviewers who allowed publication of same. Cheers.

    As a matter of interest, I passed my motorcycle test without any tuition in the early 1950s when you were sent off on a preset route, and observed covertly from various points by the examiner, who would at one point would test emergency braking by leaping out from cover shouting "STOP". I believe there were one or two injuries! When filling out my pink 'pass' form, my examiner asked for the make of 'bike I was using, [a 1936 Sunbeam] and commented...."sounds like a bag of nails" Great days!

  11. Comment by Edward posted on

    Driving for 55 years. HGV's for 40+ years. Drive 20,000+ miles per year now.
    It's good about the phone number to report iffy instructors, because there are a few about.
    Driving is dangerous. We all need to be trained properly.
    A ton of metal coming towards you at any speed can kill you.
    Laws and systems are not there just to be obeyed, they are for everyone's safety.

  12. Comment by Kathy posted on

    All qualified instructors have to have an enhanced CRB check now a DSB, unqualified, illegal instructors don't neirher do driving examiners. So as a mum of a 17 year old, besides being a driving instructor, I would not want my child in a car on a 1 to 1 basis with a complete stranger who has not been vetted, picking a licence instructor is a sure fire way of knowing this has been done.

    As for not being able to afford the test fees to become an instructor, including your final fee for your licence! These amount to the grand total of £605.00. That is if you have the skills to pass all 3 parts first time. Each part one test is £83 (reducing to £81 in October) part 2 & 3 are £111 each. The other £300 is for your licence to teach. Any business has start up costs, some much more than this.

  13. Comment by maz posted on

    In addition to the ADI badge, the DVSA could introduce a taxi licence style plate for ADI/ PDI. Road side checks can be minimal and also the legal ADI/PDI would not be inconvinienced which may also put doubts in the paying learners mind. Or L plates used by ADI/PDI should be different to those not on the register so easier catch.

  14. Comment by Nothingwillchange posted on

    I live on a route used by many vehicles with learner drivers. Why they have to drive through a crowded council estate full of children who are totally out of any control is beyond me, one child hit, fortunately not seriously hurt. The standard of driving is awful - road position, situational awareness, driving on parking lights, inappropriate speed, the list is endless. Some of the cars have ADI advertised, my old Instructors would have thrown me out of the vehicle for less!

  15. Comment by Emma Ashley posted on

    "As the Head of DVSA’s Fraud and Integrity team – and as a parent - illegal driving instructors are a real concern to me. These people pose a danger to the pupils they teach and to road safety as a whole. They haven’t proven their ability to teach and haven’t had the necessary criminal record checks. They also threaten the livelihoods of genuine instructors."

    So, just like parents then? The only difference between an illegal instructor and a parent is that money changes hands in one case and not in the other. Yes, parents can teach their kids to drive and may teach them very well, but so may an illegal instructor. Dear DVSA, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot prevent illegal instructors and allow parents - it's a nonsense.

    Make professional instruction compulsory and supplement it with private practice. You retain the quality that the profession offers but don't prevent parents (and grandparents) from doing their bit to ensure safer roads.

    • Replies to Emma Ashley>

      Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

      Actually, I'd be very surprised if the all parents really did teach their kids for nothing. There's fuel and insurance costs, for one thing, and I'd wager that many parents insist that their kids chip in somehow. After all, the reason they do it is often to avoid paying for lessons - which they can't/won't afford.

      A bigger problem among those is whether they're actually insured at all. Over the years I've had loads of pupils with whom it's become clear that mum or dad thinks that driving around an industrial estate at night, or the supermarket car park on weekends, means they don't need insurance. As I say, they often do all this to save money, and since junior is likely to send mum's insurance up from £25 a month to well over £100 well, you don't have to do much imagining to see where it is likely to lead.

      The issue with "illegal instructors" is that they are passing themselves off as instructors. Or in some cases, ingrained attitudes mean neither the teacher nor the pupil gives a damn about any law to begin with.

      ADIs are supposed to be professionals. They have to gain a professional qualification. And their profession is covered by strict laws (the subject that the Fraud & Integrity Team deals with). For that reason alone, you CAN aim to prevent illegal instructors who pass themselves off as licensed and leave mum and dad to get on with it.

    • Replies to Emma Ashley>

      Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

      And I should add that I mean "get on with it... legally" (i.e. insured).

  16. Comment by annonymous posted on

    Many driving instructors around the Mitcham test centre area teach people without displaying a valid badge in the window. All you would need to do to catch them is stand by the gate as they come into the car park. A few high profile cautions and the problem would soon be resolved.

  17. Comment by David Peter posted on

    Having read the concerns raised by both members of the public and qualified ADI I nstructors may I rase a small point. As a ADI and AMI I see regular unlawful instruction being carried out on a daily basis, I have reported each incident without failure.
    The reaction to these complaints are verified and complex and I am told follow a due process.
    Perhaps if the general public new about the current un qualified training provided by the Ambulance Service that allows none qualified Instructors to train RRV car vehicle's thy may react in a different way and force the DVSA to act and not turn a b
    Ind eye that appears to be the current policy . Change is on the way but nothing has been done to stop the current practice.

  18. Comment by El posted on

    It would be very hard to know whether someone is a legal ADI or not. Not all ADI's display their badges as they are supposed to.

  19. Comment by John S posted on

    As a former ADI,HGV,PSV and crash investigator when I was an ADI I encouraged pupils to their parents to acompany them in their own car. This most certainly increased their chances of passing 1st time 3 fold. Those here who want to regulate these family members are so wrong. Further more it does appear that ADI's want a closed shop. The cost of lessons are extortionate now.
    Perhaps the profession should look to reducing their charges to a level ordinary folk can afford. The benefits would be 2 fold 1st the qualified would see an influx of new clients (after all why buy a poor copy when for a little more they can have the real deal. 2nd the imposters would priced out of business

  20. Comment by John S posted on

    PS as an aside when a crash investigator i never found a learner or newly qualified driver responsible for an incident on the contrary it was mostly the 'experienced driver' who was the cause