Stolen Vehicle Unit gets last-minute reprieve

A police force that cracks down on gangs of car thieves and recovers stolen plant equipment has been saved at the eleventh hour by insurers.

Allianz led a campaign to keep the Stolen Vehicle Unit (SVU) after learning that the Met police planned to scrap it.

However, the number of staff at the SVU has been cut from nine to six.

Allianz, Aviva, NFU Mutual, NMU, RSA, QBE, HSB and Zurich all fund the Plant & Agricultural National Intelligence Unit (PANIU), which recovers stolen plant equipment and catches thieves. PANIU is part of the SVU.

Allianz feared losing PANIU if plans were followed through to scrap the SVU.

Led by underwriting manager Ian Nichol, Allianz lobbied Scotland Yard commanders to keep SVU.

Allianz was then backed by its insurer partners who lobbied to save the SVU.

Scotland Yard decided to keep the unit as a result.

“We found out at the last minute it was safe,” Nichol said. “It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my career.”

Nichol said insurers were worried that if the SVU was scrapped, vehicle and plant theft would not be a priority for the police and the insurance industry would have to step in.

Mitsui Sumitomo pulled out in October. Insurance Times understands AXA is keen to join the panel funding for PANIU. PANIU costs around £210,000 a year to fund.