The government body responsible for checking and enforcing standards on MOT garages is now equipping all its officers with bodycams.
All frontline staff will now wear bodycams, which the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says is to “reduce physical and verbal assaults”.
Bodycams record both video and audio, rather like a personal CCTV device.
“Whilst the majority of people we come into contact with are courteous,” said the DVSA, “we need to be able to protect the public without fear of violence or abuse.
“We take a zero-tolerance approach to physical and verbal assaults, and the bodycams will act as a deterrent.”
The devices will help the agency manage, support and respond to any assaults that do take place.
The DVSA bodycams are similar to those used by other enforcement officers such as the police.
DVSA and AI
DVSA frontline staff routinely visit MOT garages to check up on those it believes are not testing vehicles properly.
The organisation is actually now using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify problematic garages – analysing 40 million annual MOT tests to profile the country’s testers.
For the first time, the tool can drill down to individual MOT testers, giving them a risk score that incorporates factors such as pass rates, disciplinary history and both the frequency and duration of tests.
It even has a ‘predictive vehicle failure model’ for individual cars, giving the likelihood of a vehicle passing or failing its MOT.
Testers who repeatedly record results contrary to the prediction are targeted.
This allows the DVSA to direct enforcement officers to individual garages or MOT testers who may either be underperforming or committing fraud.
One tester in Devon was identified by the AI system. When investigation officers delved further, he was found to have carried out more than 300 fraudulent MOTs.
He was prosecuted, given a suspended prison sentence and banned from testing.
As the DVSA steps up such activity thanks to the efficiency of AI risk rating algorithms, so it is eager to protect officers investigating fraudulent or deliberate testing.
The new bodycams, it is hoped, will give more confidence to those officers tackling what the DVSA describes as “the bad eggs”.