Data has revealed that, of all 45 forces in the UK, Thames Valley Police ranks lowest for catching drivers with illegal numberplates.

An anonymous Instagram user known only as 'The Number Plate Spotter' made a series of freedom of information requests.

These showed that, in 2023, there were only 17 fines and prosecutions in the Thames Valley policing area for unauthorised plates.

By contrast, Greater Manchester Police - the most proactive force - logged 2,711 fines and prosecutions.

Other police forces with a poor record of enforcement include Gwent, Durham, South Wales and Leicestershire.

Any vehicle plate which does not comply with the standards set out in UK legislation is deemed illegal.

Tinted backgrounds, alternative fonts or sizing and misspaced letters are among the breaches which could land a driver in court, or lead to a fine.

Data shows that the issue of unlawful numberplates has been the subject of a mounting police crackdown over the past few years.

In 2023, there were 17,658 fines or prosecutions across the UK - around a 50 per cent increase on 2020.

The Number Plate Spotter - who claims to be just 14 - runs an Instagram page dedicated to the issue of illegal numberplates.

The page collates photos and submissions from other users, including some of the most outrageous examples of unauthorised plates.

The Number Plates Spotter said that Thames Valley Police did not initially make available the data he requested.

They state: “The Thames Valley area is one of the best and easiest places to spot illegal plates, and the shocking statistics from Thames Valley Police explain why motorists in the area can display their number plates in any way they wish."

Thames Valley Police have been approached for comment.