A national programme to deny serious and violent criminals the use of the roads was launched today by Home Office Minister John Denham.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems are a powerful tool in the fight against crime, with striking results in increased detection rates and crime prevention.
In a visit to Avon and Somerset Constabulary, John Denham announced additional funding for nine police forces towards pilots for best practice use of ANPR technology. This is part of the wider police reform agenda, designed to help forces target resources better and make officers' time on the streets more effective. Exploiting technology to improve efficiency will help the police meet their targets for continuing crime reduction and bringing criminals to justice.
Police experience has confirmed strong links between road traffic offences and other criminal conduct. Interim figures, after only four weeks of the pilots, show 6580 vehicles stopped; 480 arrests made; 59 stolen vehicles recovered; over £400,000 of stolen goods, vehicles and drugs recovered and £144,000 of vehicle excise duty evasion detected.
ANPR devices work by scanning vehicle registrations and checking them against information stored in databases, including the Police National Computer, to identify vehicles of interest to the police, such as stolen cars or those involved in crimes. When a suspicious vehicle is recognised it can be the focus of targeted interception and enquiries.Speaking in Bath today, Mr. Denham said:"Automatic Number Plate Recognition is an invaluable tool in the campaign to make our streets safer. These pilots mark the beginning of an ambitious programme of crime reduction measures, harnessing the powers of technology to drive down crime. By denying criminals use of the road the police will be better able to enforce the law, prevent crime and detect offenders.
"The government provided ANPR technology to each force in the country last year in the firm belief that it has a vital role to play in the prevention and detection of criminal activity and in reducing death and injury on the roads. The early results of these enhanced pilots strongly bear this out, with significant increases in arrest levels where the facilities have been deployed.
"We, along with the Association Of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) are convinced that ANPR will assist the police as they tackle serious crime, while at the same time significantly enhancing visible policing on the streets. Once the results of the nine pilot schemes are known, the police will be able to develop increasingly effective and sophisticated strategies for its use."
The nine forces taking part in Project Laser, the six-month pilot schemes are: Avon & Somerset, Greater Manchester, Kent, Metropolitan, North Wales, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands and West Yorkshire. They have each received £40,000 towards the cost of testing various ways of using ANPR, with dedicated teams of officers. The expected increase in officer effectiveness can be measured and in turn, models of 'best practice' will be developed to ensure the technology is used as efficiently as possible.
Frank Whitely, DCC Northamptonshire added
" ANPR technology, coupled with immediate follow up Police action via dedicated intercept teams, has the potential to deny criminals the use of the roads. ANPR is an enormously effective operational policing tool which allows the police to target known offenders, leading to Officers engaged on ANPR operations arresting up to 10 times the number of offenders that patrol officers would normally catch in a year.
"The current laser pilot projects are seeking to develop the operational tactics to prove that ANPR can work in a wide variety of policing environments, including linking ANPR to CCTV schemes, using mobile ANPR units in police patrol vehicles and larger scale mobile deployments using the Spectrum vehicles, which all Forces now possess.
"The long term intention is that every Police Command unit in the country (over 300) will have ANPR technology and a dedicated intercept team, which will mean that the tactical deployment of ANPR will have national strategic significance in reducing crime and vehicle offences."
Notes To Editors:
The nine pilots commenced on the 30 September 2002 and will run for six months. Evaluation of these pilots will provide best practice guidance to the police service and determine whether there is a wider roll out of ANPR nationally.
The Home Office has already provided support for all forces to use ANPR with £4.65 million pounds worth of funding from the Crime Reduction Programme. Entitled Project Spectrum, this provided each force in England and Wales with one fully compatible mobile ANPR unit and associated back-office facility in June this year. In addition many forces have purchased additional ANPR capability.
The interim figures were independently audited and supplied by PA Consulting Group. Full results will be published on completion of the six-month pilot schemes
During a twelve-month period in the West Midlands the use of ANPR resulted in 1,662 arrests (34 for robbery, 250 for vehicle crime, 376 for theft, 27 for burglary and 200 for drugs offences). In addition, £500,000 worth of stolen property and 64 stolen vehicles were recovered, 600 defective vehicles were impounded and over 2,000 instances of excise evasion were reported.
Between 1 April 2001 and 30 April 2002, the actions a team of 6 officers in Northampton, using ANPR/CCTV, resulted in 665 arrests (169 for vehicle crime, 191 other crimes, 210 disqualified drivers and traffic offences and 95 for outstanding Warrants. In addition, £511,225 worth of stolen property was recovered.
Both this and the West Midlands results indicate that 100 arrests per officer per year are achievable. The current national figures are 10 arrests per officer per year. All the evidence to date indicates very strong links between vehicle documentation offences and persons actively engaged in crime.
The mobile ANPR units provided under Project Spectrum are capable of checking up to 3000 number plates per hour per road lane; individual units can cover several road lanes at a time.
Strict guidelines and procedures are in place to ensure systems are operated in full compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998.
The minimum number of intercept teams in the pilots will be one per force, although in certain cases Forces may operate more.
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