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Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)

Use of ANPR by Derbyshire Constabulary


What is ANPR?

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is used to help detect, deter and disrupt all levels of criminality within Derbyshire, including tackling traveling 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 (LEAs) throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

How does it work?

ANPR cameraAs a vehicle passes an ANPR camera, its registration number is read and instantly checked against database records of vehicles of interest.

In this way police officers can intercept and stop a vehicle, check it for evidence and, where necessary, make arrests.

A record of all vehicles passing a camera is stored, including those for vehicles that are not known to be of interest at that time. In appropriate circumstances, and with the correct authorisation, the record can be accessed for investigation 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 as well as solving cases of terrorism and major organised crime. It also allows officers’ attention to be drawn to offending vehicles whilst allowing law abiding drivers to go about their business unhindered.

Retention and access to stored data

At present Derbyshire Constabulary operate over 130 ANPR cameras and over 30 ANPR equipped patrol vehicles. Some cameras are sited permanently and others can be moved in response to a particular crime trend or as part of a planned operation. Together these cameras collect about one million vehicles sightings each day.

We have clear rules to control access to ANPR data to ensure that access is for legitimate investigation purposes. Members of 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 members have additional permissions and are authorised to access data for up to 2 years subject to authorisation of a senior officer.

Searches of ANPR data can confirm whether a vehicle associated with a known criminal has been in the area at the time of a crime and can dramatically speed up investigations.

Camera locations

In addition to the cameras mounted in police vehicles, ANPR cameras within Derbyshire are used at locations where they will help to detect, deter and disrupt criminality. In line with national policy, we do not disclose details of our fixed locations as this information is likely to be of benefit to offenders and if known could reduce the value of ANPR to policing.

National guidelines ensure that if Derbyshire Constabulary propose to install ANPR cameras at a particular location then an assessment must be conducted 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.

Only if the assessment demonstrates a clear need for cameras at that location will the proposal progress. However, before new cameras are deployed, a Privacy Impact Assessment is undertaken. Derbyshire Constabulary will consult with persons 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.

Derbyshire Constabulary is also committed to regularly reviewing the location of its ANPR cameras, in the context of the above criteria, to make sure that the continued deployment remains justified.

Derbyshire Constabulary is also committed to regularly reviewing the location of its 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. The current privacy impacts are available to view here.

Surveillance camera commissioner ANPR self-assessment 

The surveillance camera commissioner ANPR self-assessment has been completed to show how the force complies with the 12 guiding principles of the surveillance camera code of practice.

Further information

The Chief Constable is the data controller for the ANPR system operated by Derbyshire Constabulary. Requests for information or complaints are received at the Force Headquarters at Ripley.

For further information regarding the use of ANPR by police forces and other LEAs, please see the National Police Chiefs’ Council website: http://www.npcc.police.uk/FreedomofInformation/ANPR.aspx



Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.