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Vehicle Recovery Unit

Northumbria Police Vehicle Recovery Scheme

Northumbria Police has statutory obligations which can involve the recovery of vehicles.

The Northumbria Police Vehicle Recovery Scheme was set up to manage the recovery, storage, release and/or disposal of vehicles recovered at the request of police officers.

Circumstances where police may be required to recover vehicles include:

  • Involvement in accidents causing an obstruction or hazard
  • Stolen vehicles
  • Broken down and causing an obstruction or hazard
  • Uninsured vehicles
  • Vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers
  • Vehicles used anti-socially
  • Burnt out vehicles
  • Suspect vehicles 'of interest' to police
  • Abandoned vehicles causing an obstruction (See AVAIL below)

Northumbria Police Vehicle Recovery Scheme has 13 contracted recovery operators, based within the force boundaries, who provide a professional recovery service on behalf of Northumbria Police.

Cost of recovery

All recoveries under the Northumbria Police Vehicle Recovery Scheme have a cost either to the owner of the recovered vehicle or to the force.
The charges are statutory (as laid down in the Removal, Storage and Disposal of Vehicles - Prescribed Sums and Charges) Regulations 2008 and subsequent amendments. These charges are set down in the link below:

Costs of recovery

These are on public display in the authorised recovery operator’s premises. 

Charges paid by the police force

Where recoveries are made under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), for the purpose of the investigation of crime, or where police have seized a vehicle as suspected stolen and subsequently return it to the person it was seized from, Northumbria Police will pay the recovery fee.

Charges paid by the owner 

The owner of the vehicle will be responsible for the cost of the recovery and any storage charges incurred where their vehicle has been:

  • At risk of vandalism/arson
  • Stolen, and is subsequently recovered by police
  • Found causing an obstruction or a danger to the public
  • Involved in a collision
  • Seized under Sec 165 Road Traffic Act without valid insurance and/or driving licence
  • Seized under Sec 59 Police Reform Act  when a motor vehicle is used carelessly, inconsiderately or 'off-road' in a manner that causes alarm, annoyance or distress 

Release of vehicles 

Recovery operators are provided with vehicle release details and, are notified by Northumbria Police Vehicle Recovery Scheme, which has responsibility for the costs incurred. Where costs are the responsibility of the owner, the vehicle cannot be released until the costs are settled. On receipt of release details the recovery operator will send a letter to the owner on how to arrange collection of their vehicle.

Release of vehicle seized under S165 A-C of the Road Traffic Act 

Where a vehicle is seized under Section 165 Road Traffic Act without valid insurance and/or driving licence a seizure notice will be issued which identifies that the owner must produce at the designated police station: 

  • The copy of the seizure form
  • Photographic ID
  • Proof of ownership of the seized vehicle
  • Valid driving licence (photocard and counterpart)
  • Valid certificate of insurance 

This must be done within seven working days of the seizure in order for the vehicle to be released.

Arranging vehicle collection

To arrange collection of your vehicle you should contact the recovery operator. You must provide two forms of ID one of which must be photographic and the other providing address details. Full payment of the statutory recovery/storage charges must be made to the recovery operator. 

Recovery Operators are open for the release of vehicles between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). Vehicles cannot be collected during the weekend.

Abandoned Vehicle Scheme - AVAIL 

Vehicles that have no current keeper or where ownership cannot be established,and are abandoned on roads or public land, are the responsibility of the Local Authority. 

The Northumbria Police Vehicle Recovery Scheme (NPVRS) acts as a facilitator and manages all vehicles recovered under the Abandoned Vehicle Scheme on behalf of the Local Authorities.  

The Vehicle Recovery Unit will carry out relevant enquiries and, where appropriate, will arrange for a 24-hour notice to be put on the vehicle prior to removal. If the vehicle has to be removed then the recovery operator will be called out to collect the vehicle within 24-hours. 

This is done when a vehicle is reported as abandoned and:

  • Is in reasonable condition
  • There is no keeper
  • It does not pose an immediate risk to nearby property
  • It does not pose an immediate risk to public health and safety
  • Is in an area, where it is not likely to be burnt out or vandalised

A vehicle poses a danger when reported and is found to be: 

  • Insecure and in poor condition
  • Posing a risk to nearby property
  • A danger to health and safety
  • At risk of vandalism/arson
  • Burnt-out

The Vehicle Recovery Unit will carry out relevant enquiries and where appropriate arrange for the vehicle to be removed immediately under the Abandoned Vehicle Scheme. The cost of removal will lie with either the vehicle owner or the Local Authority

AVAIL contact details

Free phone number 0800 169 44 66 (24-hours)

Vehicle Recovery Unit contact details 

The Vehicle Recovery Unit is open (excluding public holidays) between;

9.00am – 4.30pm (Monday to Friday) 9.00am – 4.00pm (Friday)

All necessary documents must be submitted at least 1 hour before the above times in order for the appropriate checks to be made and a vehicle released the same day. This is however, subject to a queuing system whereby documents are checked and vehicles subsequently released on a first come, first served basis.

Contact can be made by telephone via the police switchboard on 101 requesting;

Extensions: 36323, 36321, 36324

Or by email to;