Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)
Greater Manchester Police, in common with other police forces around the country, makes use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to prevent and detect crime, and to prosecute criminals.
ANPR devices work by scanning vehicle registrations and checking them against information stored in databases, including the Police National Computer and the Motor Insurance Database, to identify vehicles of interest to the police. This includes stolen vehicles or those known to be involved in crime. When a suspect vehicle is recognised, it can then be the focus of targeted interception and enquiries. In order to support this GMP have a dedicated intercept team to make sure we make the best use of ANPR.
In more general terms ANPR supports the police to:
- Disrupt criminal use of motor vehicles
- Locate and recover stolen vehicles
- Prevent and detect crime
- Arrest offenders
- Identify and prosecute offenders using illegal, un-insured and un-taxed vehicles
How is it used?
ANPR technology, coupled with immediate follow-up police action via dedicated intercept teams, has the potential to deny criminals the use of the roads. ANPR is an enormously effective operational tool which allows the police to target known offenders. Officers engaged on ANPR operations arrest significantly more offenders than patrol officers would in the normal course of their duties.
Who is it used by?
Every force in England and Wales uses ANPR and this intelligence-led policing tool is fast becoming a core policing activity.
What is it currently being used for?
ANPR is an invaluable tool in the campaign to make our streets safer. There is an ambitious programme of crime reduction measures, harnessing the powers of this technology to drive down crime. By denying criminals the use of the road, the police will be better able to enforce the law, prevent crime and detect offenders. ANPR can also assist casualty reduction by removing unsafe vehicles and drivers from our roads.
Won't this take police away from work they should be doing, like catching murderers and rapists?
Far from taking police away from catching criminals, ANPR is an effective policing tool that can be used in the detection of criminals and in crime reduction generally. It is known that motoring offences are often associated with other crime. Experience has shown that stopping vehicles where a motoring offence has been committed, often leads to arrests for more serious offences. ANPR has become a valuable tool in fighting crime and will deny criminals the use of the roads.
Isn't this going to take 'bobbies' off the beat?
No. The policing of our streets is not affected by the use of ANPR. In fact, high-visibility policing is enhanced by ANPR operations. The overt nature of ANPR operations and the associated policing activity is generally welcomed as its use leads to increased crime detection and arrests.
How is this going to help police fight crime?
Experience with ANPR has revealed very strong links between the use of motor vehicles on the road and criminality. The wider use of ANPR has led to the arrest and conviction of criminals for offences other than those motoring offences for which they have been stopped. This is a valuable tool in the fighting of crime more generally.
Policing the Roads
Isn't this just another attack on the poor motorist?
Vehicles will only be stopped if records suggest that some form of road traffic offence has been committed or there is a known police interest. Using ANPR, law-abiding citizens are less likely to be stopped by the police.
Won't this lead to police chases and endanger innocent drivers?
The safety of road users and officers is our primary concern. Units will be located where it is possible for the police to intercept vehicles without undue risk to other motorists in general. In ANPR operations, safe stopping techniques are used and can be a planned part of the operation, as opposed to chance sightings of offenders by patrol officers. There should be no increased risk to the average road user.
Is this another type of speed camera?
No. ANPR focuses on crime prevention and detecting crime and is not a means for detecting speeding offences.
Isn't this the beginnings of a `Big Brother' state?
Criminals and terrorists are becoming increasingly more sophisticated in their activities; therefore, the police need to update their crime-fighting methods. The technology used will alert the police if there are legitimate concerns that the law has been broken; it will do little more than that. ANPR allows the police to focus on those who break the law. This means that people lawfully using our roads will do so unhindered by the police. There are very strict management processes in place to ensure that ANPR data is only used for legitimate policing purposes.
How can we be sure that innocent motorists will not have their details recorded or will not be stopped?
ANPR acts as a search tool of the number-plates it scans. It’s only where a vehicle is of interest to the police because a motoring offence is noted, or there is other known criminal activity associated with it, that a vehicle would be stopped.
Data Protection / Freedom of Information / Human Rights
Will motorists be able to see the Information held on them by the police?
Data protection law will apply to any records associated with ANPR, the same as any other policing activity.
Will a permanent record be kept when someone is stopped? If so, for how long and where?
There are strict Association of Chief Police Officer (ACPO) guidelines on the police use of ANPR and these provide the necessary safeguards to prevent abuse of this technology. In certain high-profile investigations the police will value the ability to prove that a vehicle was in a specific area at a given time. There is provision within the technology to record this. Such records would only be kept in accordance with the Data Protection Act and the ACPO ANPR Guidelines.