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The True Number Of Abandoned Cars In The UK

Abandoned cars are a problem across the United Kingdom. Every year, thousands of vehicles are left unclaimed by their owners and end up abandoned on public roadsides and in car parks. The true number of abandoned cars in the UK is unknown, but data recently collected indicates huge numbers.

With the cost of car ownership on the rise, it’s no surprise that abandoned vehicles are becoming a more common sight on Britain’s streets. According to a recent Freedom of Information, 21,106 cars were abandoned across the UK in 2021. The data, which was obtained from 50 councils, also revealed the top models and locations where vehicles were deserted.

Bradford was the worst-affected area, with 3,561 abandoned cars. This was followed by Milton Keynes (1,869), Barnet (1,846), Sheffield (1,746), and Croydon (1,548).

Official Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) statistics showed that 11,075 vehicles were abandoned on public land in England alone but as this total only includes vehicles that have been removed, it’s thought the real number of abandoned vehicles is likely to be much higher.

Read on for an overview of the statistics gathered and how you should act if you suspect a vehicle has been abandoned. 

Top 10 Abandoned Vehicle Locations

  • Bradford (3,561)
  • Milton Keynes (1,869)
  • Barnet (1,846)
  • Sheffield (1,746)
  • Croydon (1,548)
  • Leicester (1,434)
  • Newham (1,106)
  • Southampton (1,074)
  • Portsmouth (1,034)
  • Sunderland (876).

Top Abandoned Vehicles By Model

  1. Ford Transit van (610)
  2. Vauxhall Astra (376)
  3. Ford Focus (363)
  4. Vauxhall Corsa (301)
  5. Volkswagen Golf (293).

When Is A Vehicle Classed As Abandoned?

When Is A Vehicle Classed As Abandoned

An abandoned vehicle has been left unused and unattended on public land for such a time and is in such a position as to cause unreasonable interference or obstruction. According to government guidelines, a car is classed as abandoned if there is no registered owner, it is untaxed, stationary for a more than 28 days, significantly damaged, missing a number plate, or unroadworthy.

Why Are Vehicles Abandoned?

There are a number of different reasons why a vehicle may be abandoned. In most cases, abandoned vehicles are simply cars that have been left behind by their owners and are no longer needed but in some cases, they may be stolen vehicles that have been abandoned by their thieves.

Other reasons include the owner not being able to afford to keep up with repairs or pay for registration and insurance, the vehicle may have been involved in a crime or used in the commission of a crime, and the owner wants to avoid being caught. Sometimes, people simply forget about their car or move away and leave it behind.

What Should You Do If You Find An Abandoned Vehicle?

If you come across an abandoned vehicle, the first thing you should do is contact your local council or the police. They will then be able to assess the situation and take appropriate action. In most cases, you will need to allow them a reasonable amount of time to remove it before you can take any further action except if the vehicle is causing an obstruction or is considered to be a danger to the public, you may be able to remove it without prior permission.

What Should You Do If You Know You Won’t Be Using Your Vehicle?

If you own a vehicle that you no longer want to drive on a public road, you can avoid paying tax by completing a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). Taking this step also means that the car won’t be declared as abandoned should someone else report it as abandoned.

To register a SORN, you just need to fill out a form and send it to the DVLA. Once your vehicle has been registered as off the road, you won’t have to pay any taxes on it but it will need to be stored in a safe and secure location so that it doesn’t cause any problems for other road users.


Abandoned cars are a common sight on the roads, with thousands of vehicles being left to deteriorate on public land. The figures published show the worst-affected area in England is Bradford, with over 3,500 cars abandoned and the most common model is the Ford Transit van. If you come across an abandoned car, you should contact your local council or the police.

Motoring Lawyer at Caddick Davies Solicitors
Caddick Davies is recognised as one of England and Wales’ leading motoring law firms, offering specialist Speeding Solicitors, Drink Driving Solicitors & Dangerous Driving Solicitors.We provide advice and representation on all motoring offences including speeding, the avoidance of disqualification on penalty points or “totting up” (exceptional hardship), driving without due care and attention (careless driving), dangerous driving, drink driving, as well as a range of services related to medical revocation of a driving licence.
Neil Davies

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