ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition)

Find out more about what ANPR is and how we use it.

What is ANPR?

ANPR technology automatically reads vehicle registrations, allowing these details to be compared against database records. ANPR systems are used by the police, government agencies such as Highways England, and commercial companies including garages, shopping centres and car parks.

Why do we use ANPR?

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is used within Northumbria Police to help detect, deter and disrupt criminality at a local, force, regional and national level, including tackling traveling criminals, Organised Crime Groups and terrorists. ANPR provides lines of enquiry and evidence in the investigation of crime and is used by forces throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.


How does ANPR work?

As a vehicle passes an ANPR camera, its registration number is read and instantly checked against database records of vehicles of interest.  Police officers can intercept and stop a vehicle, check it for evidence and, where necessary, make arrests.  

The use of ANPR in this way has proved to be important in the detection of many offences, including locating stolen vehicles, tackling uninsured vehicle use and uncovering cases of major crime.  It also allows officers’ attention to be drawn to offending vehicles whilst allowing law abiding drivers to go about their business unhindered.

In addition to being mounted within police vehicles, ANPR cameras within Northumbria Police are used at fixed locations where they will help to detect, deter and disrupt criminality.  In line with national policy, we do not disclose details of our fixed locations as this information is likely to be of benefit to offenders and if known could reduce the value of ANPR to policing.

National guidelines state that, if Northumbria Police proposes to install additional ANPR cameras, an assessment must be conducted that demonstrates a clear need, taking account of the following factors:

  • national security and counter terrorism
  • serious, organised and major crime
  • local crime
  • community confidence and reassurance, and crime prevention and reduction

In assessing whether new cameras are to be deployed, a Privacy Impact Assessment will be undertaken.  We will consult with persons and organisations with a reasonable interest in the proposal unless that would be contrary to the purpose of the development, namely to detect, deter and disrupt criminality.

Northumbria Police is also committed to regularly review the location of ANPR cameras, in the context of the above criteria, to make sure that the continued deployment remains justified.  All reviews will include consideration of the impacts on privacy.

What happens to the data from ANPR cameras?

ANPR data from Northumbria Police is submitted to the National ANPR Data Centre (NADC) where it is stored together with similar data from other forces for a period of one year.

We have clear rules to control access to ANPR data to ensure that access is for legitimate investigation purposes. Our staff only have access to ANPR data if it is relevant to their role, and the majority of those who have permission may only do so for a maximum period of 90 days from the date it was collected.

Searches of ANPR data can confirm whether a vehicle associated with a known criminal has been in the area at the time of a crime and can dramatically speed up investigations.

Who governs ANPR?

The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice defines the guiding principles for the use of ANPR. 

In addition National ANPR Standards for Policing and Law Enforcement (NASPLE) also provide the framework for the operation of ANPR by the police and other law enforcement agencies. You can view these documents at: 

How do I make a complaint about ANPR?

Who is Northumbria Police's data controller?

The Chief Constable is the data controller for the ANPR system operated within Northumbria Police.

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