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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 03:19 GMT
Police start camera scan network
Police officer stopping car
The system checks number plates against vehicle databases
Police are setting up a national network of cameras across England and Wales which they hope will dramatically increase the number of arrests.

The automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) can tell police when a vehicle has been stolen or involved in crime.

Police say it has already markedly increased arrests, including for burglary and drugs offences, in 23 forces where it has been tried.

Last year, the government pledged 15m to support ANPR over the next year.

The system scans car number plates and checks these against records from the DVLA, the Police National Computer and local intelligence computer systems.

Police say vehicles are only stopped where it is believed an offence has been committed, or when there is a known police interest in that vehicle.

The widening of the scheme across England and Wales follows on from the success seen in 23 forces between June 2003 and June 2004.

'Arrests increase'

The Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Acpo) says the trials show ANPR had increased arrests and prosecutions by many times the average levels.

Acpo said 13,499 people were arrested, including 2,263 for theft and burglary and 1,107 for drugs offences.

The police service is now integrating ANPR into its day to day activities as a mainstream policing tool
Frank Whiteley
Chief Constable of Herts

Acpo's ANPR Strategy for the Police Service for 2005 to 2008 is launched on Thursday.

Frank Whiteley is Chief Constable of Hertfordshire and Chair of the Acpo ANPR Steering Group.

He said the strategy was "a key step in grasping the opportunities ANPR provides for denying criminals use of the roads."

"The police service is now integrating ANPR into its day to day activities as a mainstream policing tool," he said.

Fixed penalties

The strategy also aims for all police forces in England and Wales to have at least one ANPR intercept team by October 2005.

And it plans to use money raised from Fixed Penalty Notices resulting from the system's use to fund further ANPR development.

Acpo also said that the ANPR use by 23 forces in England and Wales during the trials led to a total of 180,543 vehicles being stopped and there were also over 3,300 arrests for driving offences.

The use of ANPR during that year also led to more than 50,000 Fixed Penalty Notices being issued for offences ranging from no insurance, not wearing a seatbelt and using a mobile phone while driving.

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19 Dec 02 |  England

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