MORE and more motorists are being forced to pay police recovery and storage charges if their car is stolen, new figures show.

Figures released by Dorset Police show that the number of people who have paid the force recovery and storage charges for them to retrieve their stolen vehicles had increased six-fold in the space of two years.

In 2015, 36 motorists collectively paid £6,120 in removal and £2,740 in storage charges after their vehicles were recovered by the force after they were stolen.

However, by 2017, this figure had risen to 130 motorists who paid £20,550 for removal and £5,760 in storage costs.

Under current laws, police currently have the powers to remove a vehicle which has been parked illegally or is causing an obstruction and may pose a danger and they can also take action when the car has been abandoned or has broken down.

However, police forces across the country including Dorset say that Home Office determines the charges which force the motorists to pay.

The issue has been raised in Parliament by Birmingham MP Steve McCabe who said that many motorists had been charged up to £350 – before the vehicle had been stored for even a day – and described the fee for recovery as “absolutely outrageous”.

Speaking in the House of Commons last month, Mr McCabe asked the Prime Minister if the Government would consider scrapping the fee, and urged Mrs May to stop the ‘state-sponsored secondary mugging of innocent victims’.

Mr McCabe stated that money from the Proceeds of Crime Act, which is confiscated from criminals, should instead be used to cover any charges incurred by the police when seizing and returning stolen vehicles.

He added that police tell the victim that they can reclaim the fee from their insurers but stressed that this was not the case because their insurance premium would increase as a result.

RAC Insurance director Mark Godfrey added: “Unfortunately, these figures show a very unwelcome rise in the theft of vehicles.

“We fear that thieves are now becoming better equipped with technology that’s capable of defeating car manufacturers’ anti-theft systems.

“This bad news for motorists as it has the effect of causing insurance premiums to rise at a time when they are already being pushed up by a variety of factors.”

In response, a Home Office spokesman said: “The removal of stolen vehicles is important for protecting the vehicle from further theft or vandalism and preventing an obstruction.

“The costs have to be met somewhere, and would be a cost to the police or the public purse if not met by the vehicle owner.”

Under current legalisation, the rules of stolen cars are set in regulations agreed by parliament in 2008 which sets the recovery fee at £150 and the daily storage charge at £20.

The cash goes to the police force who then pay the recovery firms under the terms of locally-agreed contracts.