AB 1 Private Number Reg Plate To Be Sold
THE Police and Crime Commissioner has decided to sell the first number plate issued to the county.
Retired police officers have criticised West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion for putting the registration number up for sale, claiming it is a part of West Mercia Police's heritage.
The number plate has traditionally been used by Worcestershire's Chief Constables and former officers were outraged when they saw it advertised for sale online.
Mr Campion said his decision to sell the historic vehicle registration number is part of his project to invest in frontline policing.
Retired Police Constable Paul Yarrington, aged 69, of Stourport, who served with West Mercia Police from 1968 to 2003, said: “It's like selling the crown jewels really. It's a bit of police history.
"A lot of police officers disagree [with the sale]. It was a car they all recognised and when they saw it come they would smarten themselves up as they knew it was the chief.
"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."
The former officer cited the loss of police clubs and the closure of the force's old museum in Hindlip, near Worcester, as examples of the force cutting itself off from the public.
Mr Yarrington initially worked as an officer in Stourport and then spent 27 years in the traffic department.
Andy Myers, another former West Mercia Police constable, aged 59, said: "I am totally disgusted at this.
"AB 1 was a plate we all automatically recognised on sight and adjusted our deportment appropriately, just in case it decided to stop.
"Selling AB 1 really is the scraping of the barrel bottom."
Mr Campion said: "I acknowledge that 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, particularly when they have not been used for many years.
"My priority is to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are protected, therefore a considered decision has been made to market AB 1 and any sale proceeds will be reinvested into West Mercia and frontline policing.”
The numberplate had been listed online with Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers.
But the company says it is no longer selling the item and Mr Campion's spokesman confirmed the company no longer acts for them.
The registration number was originally issued to Worcestershire's Chief Constable Herbert Sutherland Walker and used on his cars until he retired in 1931.
It was then withheld for a number of years and reissued again in 1957 to Worcestershire's Chief Constable JE Lloyd-Williams.
Vehicle registration was introduced in 1903 and it is believed AB 1 was first issued to the county in 1908.
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“Once you’ve bagged that number plate – if it’s a good one it adds value to it. Some are iconic and will be sought after. Some of the best are simple but exquisite.”
The biggest went for £180,000 in May last year – for KR15 HNA – which was a new British record for the most expensive current style personalised registration plate.
Today, plates with just one number and two letters cost an estimated £60,000, 20 times more than the early 1990s, when drivers could expect to pay somewhere between £3,000 to £5,000.
A DVLA spokesman said: “Many people enjoy displaying a personalised registration number and the general sale and auctions remain extremely popular with the public.
“Since we began selling personalised registrations we have raised around £2.3 billion and all the money raised is passed to the Treasury.”
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