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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 May, 2004, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Force praises scanner technology
A car registration plate
Officers can check number plates with crime records via a laptop
Police in Merseyside have hailed the success of new technology which has helped them make more than 600 arrests.

Goods worth hundreds of thousands of pounds have also been seized thanks to kit which scans vehicle number plates and checks them against crime records.

The force is one of 23 across the UK to take part in the trial of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system.

Since the trial began in June 2003, 604 people have been arrested for offences such as burglary and car crime.

Property worth almost 500,000 has been recovered, including stolen lorries and high-performance cars.

'Catching serious criminals'

The technology scans number plates, allowing officers to check intelligence on the vehicle at the touch of a button on a laptop computer at the roadside.

It can check up to 3,000 number plates each hour.

Chief Constable Norman Bettison said: "Motorists could be forgiven for thinking 'haven't the police got better things to do'.

"I'd like them to know that we're catching serious criminals, not speeders. Criminals are our key priority here in Merseyside and always will be whilst I'm here."

He added he intended to increase the number of police vehicles fitted with ANPR.

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