To use it you need to know what it is first of all, so without wishing to insult those in the know, here is a basic guide.

ANPR is an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, linked to roadside cameras and the Police National Computers (PNC) database of over 45 million motor vehicles in the UK.

Most of those vehicles are recorded on the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) database of vehicles registered for use in the UK.  Some foreign vehicles will exist on the PNC but they are usually of “interest” to the police for reasons such as it has been stolen or used in crime whilst in the UK or abroad.

ANPR Cameras courtesy of the BBCAccording to recent revelations, there are now over 8,000 cameras in the network, with senior officers hopeful of extending it further because they regard ANPR as a key tool that helps to cut crime and save lives.

Privacy campaigners have their own views on the existence and use of ANPR technology.

It is claimed that the ANPR CCTV cameras on Britain’s road take around 26 million photographs every day.  That means that every vehicle passing those cameras is photographed, innocent or not.  This means that the National ANPR Data Centre (NADC)  holds around 17 billion photographs in its archive.  This is thought to be the world’s largest such database.

Two images are taken of every vehicle – one focused on the number plate, the second on the whole car, which often includes the face of the driver. Details on the time of day and direction of travel are also kept.  The pictures can be kept for up to two years and cross-checked for “hits” against the Police National Computer and other “hotlist” databases, including the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.

Now, when any serious crime has been committed, one of the Senior Investigating Officer’s first ports of call is to have ANPR covering the area of and around the crime scene secured and checked.   This action alone can be enough to either put people into or out of the pot of potential suspects.

The ANPR cameras are not all fixed in one location either.  Most if not all UK police forces now have a mobile ANPR capability that can be deployed in areas where there is no fixed coverage or to cover specific noteworthy event.

SO, are these cameras going to aid or hinder the investigation in your story?  Did they or would they ever have existed without the above news?

To see one of the success stories about catching a sex attacker, follow this link –

To view the Police information about ANPR, follow this link –

To view a newspaper article about ANPR follow this link –

Don’t forget your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police at an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

  1. Elke Feuer says:

    Thanks for sharing! Not sure to what extent they use it where I live in the Cayman Islands, but it’s certainly something to think about for my story.


  2. Pete Denton says:

    So when I drive on the motorway is that was those cameras on bridges are? I always wondered.

    Phenomenal number of photographs to be taken on a daily basis. Great for use in stories though another little detail that could make a difference.


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