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What investigating illegal driving instruction involves

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DVSA fraud investigation

My investigative team encounter a range of situations when they’re out investigating suspected cases of illegal driving instruction. In this blog post, I’ll describe what this work typically involves.

The team although small covers the whole of the country. Our investigative managers always work in pairs for safety reasons, as they can occasionally face aggressive hostility when trying to get statements.

A typical day

Recently, 2 members of my team started off their day in the South Staffordshire area by investigating a case involving a local instructor who is no longer on the register but continues to operate. He’s also suspected of offering motor racing tickets for driving lessons!

To help build the case against him, my team visited a number of his learner drivers to get witness statements. On this occasion, none of the pupils was in, so my team had to post letters through their door, asking them to call.

The next job involved the team trying to contact a different driving instructor whose licence ran out in November and hasn't been renewed, despite him continuing to give lessons.

On a typical day, the team have to travel back and forth to follow up on cases, depending on whether they are contacted by potential witnesses.

For example, after having agreed to meet with the instructor whose licence had run out, they then got a call from are contacted by a pupil willing to give a statement as a result of an earlier letter drop. This meant they then have to re-order their workload.

The main challenges

Getting witness statements can be a lengthy process as often pupils won’t be in. This means that my team often have to return in the evening to either try again, or if they get a call from someone as a result of receiving the letter.

Once one of our investigating managers even turned around and drove 100 miles back down a motorway to get a statement.

A reluctance to get involved

Potential witnesses are often reluctant to get involved with an investigation for various reasons. Pupils often feel potentially at risk as an instructor knows where they live, what their parents do and when people come and go from the house.

On the other hand, we have had cases where the pupils themselves are reluctant to give a statement but are overruled by their parents into doing so.

Recent sentencing

My team’s hard work with Northumbria Police recently resulted in an illegal driving instructor being convicted of fraud by false representation, and sentenced to a 6 month custodial sentence, suspended for 2 years.

This particular investigation found that the instructor wasn’t qualified to take payment for driving instruction (section 123 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 prohibits drivers from receiving payment for providing driving instruction unless they’re qualified and registered with DVSA).

The instructor had previously failed to qualify as an approved driving instructor despite several attempts to do so.

Coming soon to a (TV) screen near you

You’ll soon get the chance to see some of our work in action. We’ve recently been working with TV production companies to film some of our investigative work for forthcoming documentaries about driving test fraud.

Acting Senior Investigations Manager, Vasim Choudhary being filmed for a future documentary about fraud.
Acting Senior Investigations Manager, Vasim Choudhary being filmed for a future documentary about fraud.

Keep a watch on our Facebook page and Twitter channel for details of timings.

How to report suspected illegal instruction

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 send an email to

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  1. Comment by Ricky potter posted on

    So does that apply to lgv instructors as I am an dsa reg instructor reg no 158 and that amount of lgv driving school that are now on the road that have no lgv instructor qualifications apart from
    Passing there cat c or cat ce and charge money for lessons

  2. Comment by Phill Godridge posted on

    What exactly is the illegal act: Driving instruction while not on the ADI register OR accepting payment for said instruction?

    Why is it OK for a non-qualified person to give driving instruction just so long as they aren't being paid for it? As ONLY if they accept some form of payment does it becomes a criminal offense.

    Surely the act of giving driving instruction itself should be made illegal if the 'instructor' is not qualified. A crime is a crime, regardless of financial gain.

    The convictions detailed above were based on commiting fraud... so would it not be the case that if the unqualified instructor had been honest with his pupils and declared that he was not a qualified instructor, but the pupils were happy to pay him anyway... no fraud has taken place?

    Just something to think about.

    • Replies to Phill Godridge>

      Comment by Andy Rice posted on

      Section 123 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 specifies that an offence is committed if an individual provides driving instruction in a car for money or monies worth and is not authorised by DVSA.

      There is also a fraud offence under section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006. If an individual is providing paid instruction in a car without being authorised by us and is operating in a way that the pupil believes that individual is an Approved Driving Instructor then a fraud offence has been committed.

      However if an individual is providing paid instruction in a car without being authorised by us and evidence cannot be adduced to show that they are operating in a way that the pupil believes that individual is an Approved Driving Instructor there may still be an offence under section 123 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

  3. Comment by Len Brazier posted on

    why do they wear a uniform similar to police officers ?

  4. Comment by Peter G Collins posted on

    Why is there so much about car driving instruction. I agree that instructors should be qualified. I am on the DSA Register of LGV instructors which is not compulsory. WHY NOT.
    We are all doing the same job.

  5. Comment by Idris Patel posted on

    Would it not be easier for Driving examiners to have more signs on the notice board in the test Centre,and to give Driving instructors a number they can contact,
    The dodgy ones will always be visual ant.
    They will soon get spotted,
    Also Examiners should have powers to ask questions to the learner or Driving instructor when ever they feel a need to at the Centre,
    The professional instructors Will help for there benefit as it's taking work away from them,
    More needs to be done,
    The way it's been checked at the moment
    It's not enough,
    More needs to be done.

  6. Comment by John Curtin posted on

    We have had this problem in Plymouth for a considerable time members of our association have reported this to the DVSA and have provided considerable video evidence. I left messages on their voice mail but they denied receiving them. I contacted my member of parliament to no avail as the DVSA they seem to treat everyone with utter contempt. When the DVSA say they "had to drive 100 miles down the motorway" we have no chance in the West Country as we are so far away from their office. There is no way they are entitled to use the word INTEGRITY in their department Description

    • Replies to John Curtin>

      Comment by Andy Rice posted on

      Since 2011, we’ve received 3 reports for the Plymouth area: 2 of these have been investigated whilst the third one is currently ongoing.

      We do want to hear about these reports – the best way to get in contact with the Investigations team is to call 0191 201 8120 or email We’ll investigate any reports with the strictest confidence.

  7. Comment by Robert Cavell posted on

    Generally I have found these DVSA blogs very informative and enlightening.
    However this one seems to me to be rather disjointed in that 'a day in the life of an investigator' left me cold.
    I would have thought that a warning about the practice would have been more appropriate.

    PS. I have 60 years of qualified driving experience and have NEVER given a single driving lesson to another person, this in spite of it being common practice for many many years during that period.
    I mention this simply as a fact and in doing so have confined myself to verbal advice only when asked.
    Please DVSA keep up the do's of good driving practice which I find so helpful.
    We could do with a bit more public information on the TV about good driving practice, after all you are rather preaching to the converted here aren't you?

  8. Comment by Malcolm posted on

    This is great news and something I didn't know happened but now can pass this information to staff and friends. Is there any identification new/learner drivers should be asking for?

    • Replies to Malcolm>

      Comment by Daris posted on

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