ANPR  – What Is It and What Does It Do?

Driving around many UK towns and cities, you may have noticed a police issued sign that informs you that you are entering an ANPR area. But what exactly does that mean? What is this ANPR and how is it used?

ANPR stands for Automatic Number Plate Recognition. It’s a series of cameras used by police to track and monitor vehicles in locations across the country. It’s part of a joined up system involving police computers, cameras and specialist software.

Since its introduction, ANPR has been responsible for preventing and solving all kinds of crimes, from road crime through to drug offences and murder. It’s a tool that helps the police track criminal activity nationwide.

How Does ANPR Work?

The ANPR camera reads each registration plate and immediately checks it against a database of ‘vehicles of interest’. If a vehicle of interest is detected the police have the power and ability to stop the vehicle, check it and if required, make arrests.

The registration plates from cars passing the ANPR cameras is sent to a data centre and is stored for up to two years. Despite this, access to the data is strictly prohibited to officers unless they are investigating a crime. Even then, most officers are only allowed up to 90 days worth of access to the data.

Rest assured, your data is safe and is only used in the event of investigating a crime. If you don’t have a vehicle of interest, your data won’t be stored on the computer.

Where is ANPR Active?

The ANPR network runs across the country and is supplemented by specialised ANPR vehicles. The exact location of the numerous cameras is kept secret to prevent a reduction in their effectiveness.

The cameras attached to the specialist vehicles are obviously mobile, but if you are entering an area where ANPR cameras are located, there are police signs informing you so.

The ANPR network is active across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All of the data is stored together, allowing for a joined up approach to the policing – if your car is stolen it can still be tracked nationwide, so even if it crossed over the border into Wales or Scotland, ANPR would be able to pick to up and track it.

Does ANPR Track Speed?

No, the ANPR system does not track the speed of a driver. It is only able to read and check number plates, which it can do so up to speeds of 100mph in any light or weather.

I’ve Bought Show Plates – Do I Need to Let the Police Know?

No, you don’t. When you buy the plates you don’t need to inform the police specifically – as long as all of the relevant paperwork is completed with the DVLA, your details are updated and no further action is required on your part.

If you buy dodgy show plates and don’t inform anyone, well then you’re in big trouble, but you know that already!

ANPR – What You Need to Know

The ANPR is almost an irrelevance to law-abiding drivers. It won’t track you or store your data if you haven’t done anything wrong. It is only used to investigate crime. Since ANPR was introduced in the 1980’s, it has made patrol policing 5 times more effective than before.