AB 1 Number Plate Regplates Sale Opinion In The Daily Mail
A police chief has sparked a row by selling one of Britain's most valuable car number plates.
West Mercia Police hope to raise up to £250,000 by auctioning the registration number AB 1.
Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion will put the money towards front line policing and it could pay for 12 new constables for a year.
But retired officers have launched a campaign to stop the sale saying the force is selling off its 'crown jewels'.
More than 700 people have signed a petition urging the force to keep the historic plate, first issued in 1908 and used on the official cars of the Worcestershire Chief Constable.
Experts say its value is increased because there is documentation to show it's only ever had one owner.
Mr Campion said: 'A considered decision has been made to market AB 1. The sale proceeds will be reinvested towards frontline policing in West Mercia.
'My priority is to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are protected and that West Mercia is a safe place. The public expect that I effectively use the assets at my disposal to do this.'
The registration number, unused for six years, is up for auction with a guide price of £175,000 but is expected to go for a lot more.
Mr Campion added: 'The prospect of a Chief Constable or any public servant using a private number plate belongs in a time gone by, both for security reasons and public expectation.
'I acknowledge there is history associated with this registration number, however it is right that we utilise the assets we have to support policing in our area.'
Ironically, the initials of current chief constable Anthony Bangham coincide with the number plate.
Former officers were outraged by the sale and have urged the Police and Crime Commissioner to have a rethink.
Retired Worcester policeman Paul Yarrington said: 'It's like selling the crown jewels really. It's a bit of police history.
'Thousands of officers, if you asked them what AB 1 was, they could say it's the chief's car. I was disgusted when I saw it for sale.
'There's at least 19 cars I know it's been on. There's no sense of history now. I get the feeling the force is alienating itself against the public.'
Vehicle registration was introduced in 1903 and AB 1 was first plate issued in Worcestershire in 1908.
John Cherry, director of regplates.com, said: 'AB 1 is a bit special because it's never come up for sale before.
'It's a piece of motoring history and I would expect it to go for in the region of £250,000.
'It is an original issue which puts another 25 per cent on the value - there will be a lot of interest in it.'
How close a series of letters or numbers are to a real name of word: if the match quality is high (and the numbers and letters are very convincing in making a popular word), the value of the registration plate will be higher. This means that a match like 5IMON, for the name Simon, will be worth a lot more than a more obscure set of letters and numbers that are not as convincing a match, such as S17 MMM for the name Sam.
The style of the plate: this means establishing if it is a new-style plate, an older-style format or if it is dateless or Irish, for instance. Other options are that it is a prefix-style plate or a suffix-style plate. New-style number plates, which have been produced since 2001, tend to be the least valuable because they are a bit less appealing to some collectors, plus the rule about not having plates that are newer than your car can also come into play, putting people off from buying a newer-style plate for their older car. Prefix-style number plates, which were in production between 1983 and 2001 can be more popular as more vehicles are entitled to have those licence numbers, and they may have fewer characters in total. Suffix-style plates, issued from 1963 to 1983 are relatively rare, which means they can attract higher prices than prefix-style plates and newer designs. Dateless number plates, also known as cherished number plates, were produced between 1903 and 1963 and are nearly always the most valuable number plate configurations; they have fewer digits and their dateless nature means that people can hide the age of their car. Irish number plates are similar to dateless number plates, especially because they don’t have a year identifier. They also tend to be cheaper than other types of vehicle registration plates.
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