Learner drivers have been urged to ensure that their instructor is operating legally after dozens of instructors have been convicted of working without a licence, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has said.
The DSA's warning comes after more than 123 people have been arrested for offences linked to illegal driving instruction in the last four years. Out of that number, 39 individuals were convicted and 31 received police cautions, according to the Agency.
It has undertaken 30 roadsie operations since 2011 to target illegal instruction in England, Scotland and Wales, the BBC reports.
Police have warned getting into a car with an unlicensed instructor who has not undergone the obligatory criminal background check is as dangerous as getting into an unlicensed minicab.
Inspector Vince Brady, of the Metroppolitan Police 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.”
Learner drivers also risk missing out on key driving skills essential to instructors being awarded a licence, the Met said.
The DSA's Head of Fraud and Integrity, Andy Rice, said, “We urge all learners to ensure their instructor is qualified to teach by checking they display a valid DSA badge in their windscreen. Learners can also use the free 'Find a driving instructor' service on GOV.UK to see details of their nearest instructors who are approved and registered with the Driving Standards Agency.
“All approved driving instructors undergo regular assessments of their ability to teach and are also CRB checked.
“Illegal driving instruction is rare but when it happens it can potentially be very serious. We investigate all reported cases and work with the police to bring offenders to justice
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 in order to acquire teaching experience.
Each badge is supposed to carry the instructor's photograph, an individual reference number and an expiry date.