Soaring number of British drivers investigated for traffic offences abroad

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The number of UK holidaymakers investigated for traffic offences overseas has soared, new data shows.

Applications by foreign prosecutors for help pursuing UK motorists increased by 30% last year to 1,625, according to research by specialist information supplier Thomson Reuters.

This figure was just 138 in 2014 and 1,272 in 2015.

The information was obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office.

Immigration officer
It has become easier for foreign prosecutors to request information to track down British drivers (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Thomson Reuters believes the rise in requests since 2014 is primarily due to the introduction of new EU laws allowing the sharing of driver details across borders.

Kevin McCormac, editor of legal guide Wilkinson's Road Traffic Offences, said: "The latest EU legislation means there are now far fewer hiding places for British drivers abroad.

"Many UK drivers abroad are caught out due to being unaware of local road traffic laws, which can be a costly mistake if it results in a hefty fine or legal proceedings.

"It has never been easier for foreign prosecutors to request information to track down British drivers."

Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) is the method of cooperation between states for obtaining assistance in the prosecution of criminal offences.

Mr McCormac went on: "It will be interesting to see how Brexit impacts the MLA framework as it could result in the UK withdrawing from some international legal agreements.

"Withdrawal may pose challenges for both businesses and the Government as the sharing of information may become more difficult."