Police are choosing not to enforce a new law which makes it illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying someone who is under 18 years of age, figures obtained by the BBC suggest.
Under legislation introduced in October 2015, any driver or passenger found guilty of the offence is liable for a £50 fine.
However, BBC News says that no fines have been issued since the law came into force.
The figures in the BBC News report, obtained through a Freedom of Information request to 42 police forces across England and Wales, also show that just three forces have reported any incidents – and all were dealt with by verbal warnings.
Designed to ‘protect children and young people from the dangers of secondhand smoke’, the law came into force last October amidst concerns over how it would be enforced.
The RAC pointed to data from the RAC Opinion Panel which suggested that 92% of motorists do not have confidence that the new ban will be effectively enforced.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) also expressed doubt, saying it would be taking an educational approach to offending motorists, rather than enforcing the fine.
Nigel Rabbits, branch spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, told the BBC that the figures are not surprising because the law is ‘unenforceable’.
He said: “It is poor legislation that hasn’t been thought through and it’s very difficult to enforce because you are talking about looking at a vehicle and trying to figure out what’s going on inside.
“If you’re looking for someone under the age of 18 that’s difficult without stopping the vehicle and once the vehicle has been stopped getting the evidence for prosecution is extremely difficult.”
Photo: via British Lung Foundation.