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ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition)

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.

How it works:

As a vehicle passes an ANPR camera, its registration number is read and instantly checked against database records.

Police officers can intercept and stop a vehicle, check it for evidence and, where necessary, make arrests.

A record for all vehicles passing by a camera is then stored. 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 terrorism, major and organised crime. ANPR data can confirm whether vehicles associated with a known criminal has been in the area at the time of a crime and can dramatically speed up investigations.

Access to stored data

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 two years.

We have clear rules to control access to ANPR data to ensure that access is for legitimate investigation purposes. Members of 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.

Some staff are authorised to access data for up to 2 years subject to authorisation of a senior officer. After 90 days, access may only be for serious, major or counter terrorism investigations and after 12 months only for major investigations and counter terrorism purposes.

Northumbria Police is committed to regularly review the location of ANPR cameras to make sure that the continued deployment remains justified. We will consider personal privacy as part of this review.


What is Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)?

ANPR devices work by scanning vehicle registrations and checking them against information stored in databases, including the Police National Computer to identify vehicles of interest to the police, such as stolen cars, those involved in crimes or vulnerable missing persons. When a suspicious vehicle is recognised it can be the focus of targeted interception and enquiries.

Why is ANPR used?

Since their introduction in the 1980s for counter terrorism purposes in Northern Ireland, ANPR systems have been shown to be an extremely powerful policing tool in addressing crime at all levels, including serious and organised crime. Many criminals rely on vehicles to commit crime, and ANPR is designed through speedy access to criminal intelligence databases, to make it difficult for the criminal fraternity to use vehicles for illegal purposes without being detected.

Who is ANPR used by?

Every Police Force in England and Wales has an ANPR capability.

How accurate is the technology?

The police operator verifies all information from the ANPR system before any action is taken. Great care is taken over the accuracy of any vehicle registration number stored on the system.

Where is ANPR used?

ANPR can be deployed on any road network.

Can it read foreign number plates?

Yes, systems designed for Police use can read reflective EU number plates and some non-reflective European plates.

Will a permanent record be kept when someone is stopped, if so for how long and where?

There are strict guidelines on the police use of ANPR and those provide the necessary safeguards to prevent abuse of this technology. Such records would only be kept in accordance with the Data Protection Act and the ANPR Guidelines found here: 

Does ANPR infringe my Human Rights?

No, ANPR in fact enhances the Human Rights of law abiding citizens by providing additional security through assisting the police to target only criminals and terrorists. ANPR also enhances the freedom of movement of law abiding citizens by only targeting the criminal and leaving persons using the roads lawfully to travel unhindered by the police.

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