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Automatic Number Plate Recognition

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology allows North Yorkshire Police to protect communities from travelling criminals, and helps us with a wide range of investigations.

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Cross-border crime

The North Yorkshire policing area borders on six other policing counties, and our research indicates that around 20 percent of crimes in North Yorkshire are committed by people who live outside of our boundaries.  Cross-border criminals are responsible for a wide range of offences, from theft and poaching, to serious organised crimes such as child sexual exploitation.

These criminals largely use the road network to come in to enter North Yorkshire, so we have invested in technology to help us to identify suspect vehicles and patterns of activity, so that we can detect, disrupt and deter criminal behaviour.

The technology we use is called Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and it is now a feature of policing at a local, forcewide, regional and national level.  We use ANPR to take a proactive approach to stopping criminality, to support lines of enquiry and evidence gathering in post-incident investigations, and it can also be useful in the search for vulnerable missing people, wanted criminals and to target uninsured and untaxed vehicles.

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.  The use of ANPR in this way has proved to be important in the detection of many offences, including locating stolen vehicles 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.

Access to stored data

ANPR data from North Yorkshire 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 two years.

We have clear rules to control access to ANPR data to ensure that access is for legitimate investigation purposes. 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 two 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. Searches of ANPR data can confirm whether vehicles associated with a known criminal have been in the area at the time of a crime, thereby helping to identify criminals, allowing them to be quickly brought to justice.

Camera locations

In addition to being mounted within police vehicles, ANPR cameras across North Yorkshire are used at various locations where they will help to detect, deter and disrupt criminality.

National guidelines state that if North Yorkshire 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 people 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.

North Yorkshire Police is also committed to regularly reviewing 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.

Code of Practice and National Standards

The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice defines guiding principles for the use of ANPR which are applicable to police systems. In addition National ANPR Standards for Policing (NASP) also provide the framework for the operation of ANPR by the police and other law enforcement agencies.

Copies of these documents are available at: www.police.uk/information-and-advice/automatic-number-plate-recognition/

Further information

The Chief Constable is the data controller for the ANPR system operated within North Yorkshire. Any requests for information should be made to: Detective Superintendent, Head of Intelligence, North Yorkshire Police Headquarters, Newby Wiske Hall, Northallerton, DL79HA.

Any correspondence relating to complaints should be sent to: professionalstandards@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk

The ANPR Hub

The Automatic Number Plate Recognition Hub is based in the Force Control Room with dedicated staff who monitor and assess real time information relating to vehicles identified as being connected to criminality and build up intelligence about their movements.

The Hub was launched as part of an investment in ANPR which also included mobile cameras, fixed site cameras and in-car cameras as well as the fitting of ANPR cameras to some of the force’s mobile safety camera vans. It allows us to proactively target and intercept criminals in the process of committing a crime as well as providing support for ongoing investigations and operations.

North Yorkshire is the largest, single county police force in England. It has 6,000 miles of roads and borders seven other counties including four with the highest crime rate per 1,000 population. A significant proportion – around 20% – of all detected crime in North Yorkshire is committed by criminals travelling from neighbouring areas.

ANPR works by reading the registration number of a vehicle and after checking the number against a database of information, will issue an alarm if the vehicle is linked to criminality.

It is used by the police to prevent and detect crime, as part of ongoing investigations, post-incident investigations, as well as helping in the search for vulnerable missing people, wanted criminals and to target uninsured and untaxed vehicles.