Number Plate Readers: Everything you need to know

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A number plate reader, formally known as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), is an image-processing technology used by police forces and other law enforcement agencies for a number of different reasons. Read on to find out more about these clever cameras.

What is ANPR?

The crime-detecting technology is able to capture images of travelling vehicles on roads and motorways. The numbers on these photos are then electronically cross-referred to databases used by the police. If for instance a vehicle owner is wanted by the police, the ANPR system registers a ‘hit’ and notifies the police force almost immediately. The police have the ability to stop a vehicle, check it for evidence and make arrests where necessary.

Britain has a CCTV camera for every 11 people; however a relatively small number of these cameras are equipped with ANPR technology and most of these are controlled by the police.

How Does it Work?

When a vehicle passes an ANPR camera, its registration plate is read and checked against database records that hold the details of vehicles of interest. A record for all vehicles that pass this camera is then stored, even those vehicles that are not of interest. Why? They may need to be accessed for investigative purposes in the future.

The ANPR system has proved to be beneficial in the detection of many offences such as stolen and uninsured vehicles, as well as solving cases of terrorism, serious and organised crime.

How Many Are There?

It’s difficult to know just how many of these systems are out there as the police and the Home Office don’t like to reveal exact figures, though in 2006, the Government gave the green light to a scheme to install 2,000 ANPR cameras around the UK.

According to research, a national database that stores pictures taken by ANPR cameras is thought to be the biggest archive of its kind in the world with a staggering 17 billion images. This figure is likely to increase what with technology becoming more and more advanced, as well as the roll-out of more fixed and portable cameras.

Whilst there’s no specific target, forces believe that by 2018, it should be possible to store between 50 million and 75 million ‘reads’ a day.

Where are they located?

As well as being mounted within police vehicles, ANPR cameras are used to fixed locations in order to help detect, deter and disrupt criminality. Whilst the location of these cameras are not disclosed due to the risk that offenders may use them to their advantage, national guidelines state that if a police force proposes to install additional ANPR cameras, an assessment must be conducted. The assessment must demonstrate a clear need for this technology such as:

  • National security and counter terrorism
  • Serious, organised and major crime
  • Local crime
  • Reassurance and confidence for the community
  • Crime prevention and reduction

So, now you know the ins and outs of number plate readers. Are you looking for a personal car registration? Take a look at our range and find a perfect plate for your vehicle.

Primo Registrations - Number Plate Reader

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