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Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR)

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is used to help find, deter and disrupt criminals at a local, force, regional and national level, including tackling travelling criminals, Organised Crime Groups and terrorists.

ANPR provides lines of enquiry and evidence in the investigation of crime and is used by law enforcement agencies throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

How it works

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. A record for all vehicles passing by a camera is stored, including those for vehicles that are not known to be of interest at the time they passed the camera, but may in appropriate circumstances, be accessed for investigative purposes.

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 solving cases of terrorism, major and organised crime. It also allows officers’ attention to be drawn to offending vehicles whilst allowing law abiding drivers to go about their business unhindered. 

How ANPR data is managed

All forces submit data to the National ANPR Data Centre on a daily basis. 

ANPR data helps us identify vehicles associated with crimes, including terrorism, which helps speed up investigations.

Employees of police forces only have access to ANPR data if it's relevant to their job role. Those staff who have access to this data only have permission for a maximum of 90 days from the date the data was collected. Other staff may have permission to access data for up to 12 months, if authorised by a senior officer.

Police forces review ANPR camera locations to make sure their locations are necessary.

The Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Constabulary is the data controller for ANPR across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. 

ANPR camera locations

ANPR cameras are installed in police vehicles and at fixed locations. Due to national policy, we are not able to disclose details of the fixed locations. This is because the locations of ANPR cameras may benefit offenders and could reduce the value of ANPR to police forces.

If a police force wish to install an ANPR camera at a new location, as assessment is carried out to understand the need for that particular location. New camera location reasons may be for;

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

A new camera location assessment will include a Privacy Impact Assessment and consultation with the local community and organisations who may have a reaonable interest.

Law enforcement agencies review ANPR camera locations to make sure their locations are still necessary. Reviews also include the impacts of privacy.

ANPR contacts

Enquiries about ANPR should be emailed to the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire ANPR Manager.

ANPR information is to be requested through Freedom of Information, which can be requested online.

If you have a complaint that relates to ANPR, please submit your complaint online, which will be handled by our Professional Standards Department. 

Additional information ANPR can be found on National Police Chiefs' Council website (opens in a new window).

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