The government has recently issued a 46-page report outlining the registrations that have been withdrawn from issue for risk of causing offence.
It’s a thankless task, over which the licensing authorities have often been ridiculed. But UK number plates have never been intended to represent names or words; it’s just a happy – and valuable – coincidence arising from a random process.
Almost since inception the guardians of the system have had to be on their guard. But times, fashions and language change. Very early on, the sequence ‘BF’ was blocked because of the now innocuous and laughable interpretation ‘bloody fool’.
Inevitably, some howlers have slipped through and it is rare for them to be recalled after the event.BO11 LUX was released in 2011, then withdrawn, but the owner took on the DVLA and it is now back on the road.
Perhaps the most infamous example is that of the registration PEN 15. The representation cannot be considered offensive on any grounds yet, since it has been in the possession of Regtransfers, it has fallen foul of more than one newspaper publisher reluctant to feature its promotion.
PEN 15 is being offered for sale at online auction until 11.30am Monday 6 July.
Unless they’re your initials, the letters DUK probably won’t mean much to you. But, to fans of the pop group One Direction – and, quite possibly, the members of the ensemble themselves – the registration 1 DUK says one thing: ‘1 D’ [One Direction] ‘UK’ [United Kingdom]. Consequently, a high price is anticipated when it goes up for auction in Stourbridge, West Midlands, on 6 July.
Of course, the plate dates back to 1963, when it was first issued by Wolverhampton County Borough Council and would be a desirable and distinctive combination in its own right.
Organisers of the sale are expecting the hammer to fall at between £25k and £30K. This respectable price is nothing compared to what was paid for the simple 1 D plate, which fetched a staggering £352,000 in 2009, the year before One Direction were formed.