We use ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology to help detect, deter and disrupt criminal activity at a local, force, regional and national level. This includes travelling criminals (those using the road network to avoid being caught), organised crime groups and terrorists.
ANPR provides lines of enquiry and evidence in the investigation of crime and is used by forces throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
How it works
As a vehicle passes an ANPR camera, its registration number is read and instantly checked against database records of vehicles of interest.
Police officers can stop a vehicle, speak to the occupants and, where necessary, make arrests.
ANPR has proved to be important in the detection of many offences, including locating, for example, people wanted for arrest or missing, witnesses, stolen vehicles, uninsured vehicles and uncovering cases of major crime.
How data is stored
A record for all vehicles passing by a camera is stored, including those for vehicles that are not known to be of interest at the time of the read.
At present ANPR cameras nationally, submit on average around 60 million ANPR ‘read’ records to national ANPR systems daily.
ANPR data from each police force is stored together with similar data from other forces for one year.
Staff only have access to data if it's relevant to their role. Most of those who have permission may only do so for a maximum of 90 days from the date it was collected.
For serious, major or counter terrorism investigations some staff may be given access to data for up to one year, subject to authorisation of a senior officer.
Searches of ANPR data can identify vehicles associated with crime and terrorism and can dramatically speed up investigations.
As well as being in police vehicles, ANPR cameras are used at fixed locations. In line with national policy, we don't reveal details of those locations as this information is likely to be of benefit to offenders and could reduce the value of ANPR.
National guidelines state that, if we want to install more ANPR cameras, we must do an assessment that demonstrates a clear need, taking account of the following factors:
national security and counter terrorism
serious, organised and major crime
community confidence and reassurance, and crime prevention and reduction.
In assessing whether new cameras are to be set up, we'll do a Privacy Impact Assessment. We'll consult with people and organisations with a reasonable interest in the proposal, unless that would be against the purpose of the development which is to detect, deter and disrupt criminality.
We're committed to regularly review the location of ANPR cameras to make sure their use remains justified. All reviews will consider the impacts on privacy.
This notice sets out the rights of data subjects under the Data Protection Act 2018 about data held on the National ANPR Service.
The ANPR strategy sets out the development and management of ANPR by police forces.
ANPR and the Freedom of Information Act
Find information about ANPR released under Freedom of Information Act requests in our FOI section.