West Mercia Police sell historic AB1 number plate for £160,000

By Mark Andrews | News | Published:

An historic registration number which traditionally adorned the chief constable's car has been sold by West Mercia Police for £160,000 – to a former chief constable.

The original sale details in the Brightwells advert

Paul West, who retired from the force in 2011, was the last chief constable to use the number plate AB1 on his car.

Last month it was revealed that West Mercia police and crime commissioner John Campion had put the registration number up for sale to raise money for police funds.

Mr Campion said the plate had not been used for six years for security reasons, and said the force was unlikely to use it on any of its cars in future.

But the decision to sell the number sparked an angry backlash from several former police officers, including Alan Matthews, who launched a petition against the sale

Mr Matthews' online petition attracted 895 supporters.

Mr Campion said he hoped the sale to Mr West, who planned to keep the number plate in the force area, and work with other former colleagues to raise awareness about its history, would reassure those concerned about the sale.

AB1 was the first number plate to ever be issued in Worcestershire and was used by chief constables for the area until 2011.

Mr Campion said: “The local history of AB1 was always secure come what may, but sadly it was clear we were never going to see it in use again.


“This sale achieves a significant amount of money towards policing our communities and keeping people safe. It also means AB1 retains a good link with West Mercia’s policing family and remains a part of the local landscape”.

Mr West, 59, served as chief constable for eight years.

He said: “I am well aware of the acute financial pressures being faced by the police service at present, so whilst it’s not a decision that I would have wanted to make, I completely understand why the commissioner chose to sell an asset like this, especially when it had been out of use for so long. "However, my family and I didn’t want AB1 simply to be lost to somebody with no connection to policing or to Worcestershire and never to be seen again.”

“I do intend to use the number plate on a car and am committed to keeping AB1 in Worcestershire during my lifetime. I

"I’d also like to make sure that its story remains accessible to local communities.

"I am planning to work with several former colleagues who had an even longer association with AB1 than I, to create some historic displays about the number plate’s unique history, which we intend to offer to local museums and libraries in Worcestershire.”

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.


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