back to article South Yorks police leads UK in use of ANPR cameras

Figures released by the government show large variations in the use of automatic numberplate recognition cameras by police forces. Home Office minister James Brokenshire released the figures in response to a parliamentary question from Labour MP Brian Donohoe. The numbers show that 4,225 cameras were connected by police forces …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have no real problems with ANPR cameras. I pay my insurance and road tax and keep the cat MOT'd, so am happy enough if the rozzas can more easily pick out those who think they don't need to bother with insurance etc.

    Speeding cameras in places designed soley to generate revenue rather than reduce accidents = bad.

    ANPR cameras, on the whole = good.

    1. Alister

      keep the cat MOT'd


      Is it a jaguar??

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Yeah, had to smile at my stupid typo there. The best I can offer is that the engine does "purr", albeit sadly a Ford purr rather than a Jaguar one.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cat

          >sadly a Ford purr rather than a Jaguar one

          Jaguar is owned by Ford and the cheaper Jaguars are based on the Mondeo floorpan.

          It's my personal opinion that Ford stopped productin of the Granada so it didn't compete with the bargain basement I can't afford a real Jaguar X-Types.

          1. Stuart Tomlinson


            On the subject of Ford- and going slightly off topic ,Ford doesnt own Jag any more - they sold it and Landrover to Tata a while back.

            X type is still a dressed up6 year old Mondeo tho//

            Granada went out of production some time before the xtype.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              More digression

              Last Granada/Scorpio 1998, first X-Type 2001, not much difference in car production times.

              I didn't know Jag had gone to Tata, so that'll mean the X-Types will be even tinnier than before.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It doesn't help at all

      A lot of those stopped without tax or insurance are found to have paid cash for the car and registered it to a false address so ANPR is useless. Anyway you don't need ANPR to chase insurance on properly registered vehicles, a cross reference of insurance data against registrations will do that.

      ANPR is just for recording data on road users which I'm sure is profiled and saved away, e.g. car x is a regular on the M1 and so on.

      1. david wilson


        >>"A lot of those stopped without tax or insurance are found to have paid cash for the car and registered it to a false address so ANPR is useless."

        Surely, ANPR has the potential to identify that a particular car (or at least a particular set of number plates) is in a particular place at a particular time.

        If the car doesn't check out as insured/MOT'd, isn't it useful to know it is (or at least has just been) in a particular place, rather than merely knowing that an address is false?

        Surely that gives the chance of intercepting it, if cameras are placed in locations amenable to interception?

        Even if plates are cloned, surely the more ANPR around, the easier it is for cloning to be positively identified, and again, vehicles potentially intercepted or followed?

        If I'm faced with a traffic charge or other penalty for somewhere I haven't been, aren't I in a better position if both I and a cloned vehicle are flagged up at times/places it wouldn't be possible to drive between, or if they've been flagged up at times when I can actually provide alibis?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fixed ANPR is still no use

          Unless you have associated officers ready to leap into action on receipt of a flagged number plate fixed ANPR won't catch these people. That's unnecessary anyway because lots of current police vehicles have on-board ANPR via a forward pointing camera and have had for quite a while. This continually checks plates as the vehicle drives around, checks them back via radio data link, and alerts plod to any issue, outstanding tickets, tax etc. and they can be pulled over. So again no need for fixed ANPR as it's more useful for officers to continue to patrol and carry out other police tasks at the same time rather than sitting and waiting for a message based on a fixed ANPR camera.

          Besides for every fixed ANPR site there will usually be an alternative route to avoid it, credit the crims with some savvy! So fixed ANPR will really only record the movements of the law abiding.

          1. david wilson


            >>"Besides for every fixed ANPR site there will usually be an alternative route to avoid it, credit the crims with some savvy! So fixed ANPR will really only record the movements of the law abiding."

            So all criminals know where all the fixed cameras are?

            It seems that some privacy activists see something sinister in the police not releasing location information, but if the police do give the information out, that then gets used to suggest the cameras are *only* useful for spying on innocent people.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    West Yorkshire had no cameras connected

    >"due to a technical issue"

    Let me guess, they'd been tipped off so they pulled the plug.

    Instead of normalizing on a per head of population basis wouldn't it make more sense to do it with respect to per miles of road.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      hmmm how about per mile of motorway?

      I'll give you a hint:

      Durham Constabulary polices less than 40 miles of motorway.

      Maybe add in dual carriageways...

      Badgers purely because....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        hmmm how about per mile of motorway?

        Suffolk, Norfolk?

  3. jay_bea

    Do they have an effect?

    I wonder how much of an effect ANPR cameras have on crime? Are they like CCTV cameras which actually have a very limited impact on crime detection? I had the misfortune to see a bit of Police! Camera! Action! last night, most of which seemed to be shameless propaganda in favour of CCTV and how they help solve lots of crimes. If ANPR does actually help reduce the number of untaxed vehicles and uninsured drivers then good. If not they end up being a waste of money.

    As for speed cameras, I have never understood why being caught breaking the speed limit by a camera is unfair. If the speed limit for an area is unrealistic should not the focus be on increasing the limit, rather than taking away the cameras. It seems to me that having discretionary laws (on speed limits or anything else) is the start of a slippery slope.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      ANPR effects

      Seems to have had an effect at the Trafford Centre:

    2. Steve 6

      "As for speed cameras..."

      Cameras have merely made important what is measureable, hence the undue focus on speed management and unnecessary limit reductions. It is well-known that those in charge of cameras have greatly over-exaggerated their effectiveness (look up: Regression To The Mean)

      Cameras gather evidence of one specific technical infringement (without ending that offence) without accounting for any aggravating/mitigating circumstances; they can be useless at one time and be completely dangerously distractive at others. Also, they are good at that one thing only if the driver hasn't taken precautions to evade being traced. Cameras do not give any advice or promote good driving techniques.

      Police detect and immediately halt all forms of illegal, dangerous and anti-social driving (and non-driving offences), as well as prevent evasion of justice, whilst applying discretion, and give advice if necessary.

      Ask joyriders and boy racers which they prefer!!

      Cameras HAVE displaced real road policing, therefore cameras have made our roads more dangerous than they otherwise would have been.

    3. IsJustabloke

      I refuse to enoble a simple forum post....

      Speed cameras...

      The issue for people is that often the placement of them is such that its clear they are designed to "catch people out"...

      An example, I know of a strectch of dual carriageway that runs from Baldock to Royston and beyond... its a good road, dual carriage way, long and straight. Very little in the way of roads joining although there are a couple.

      Now, the last time I drove it the speed limit changed 4 times in the space of about 5 miles, which meant that I and many other drivers very quickly started worrying the numerous speed cameras along the route.

      Now I'm sorry but there is simply no way that that serves any purpose other than to catch people out.

  4. Steve Loughran
    Thumb Up

    ANPR and insurance

    When they do ANPR checks on the severn Bridge, they have enough time to detect uninsured cars and notify the police at the far end of the bridge, who can then pull the car over. This can reduce the #of uninsured cars and unlicensed drivers, which is no bad thing.

    That said, the DVLA vans that drive round Bristol and check for untaxed cars seem to do a good job of finding untaxed vehicles; if they also checked for whether a vehicle was currently insured (trickier than you think as askmid can lag), they could also clamp them.

  5. frank 3
    Black Helicopters

    Anpr does have other uses...

    It's not just about catching the uninsured, it's about tracking people the govt. doesn't like.

    If you don't have a problem with the rozzers tracking your every move, that's fine: just hope you never annoy the government of the day.

    It's not tin-foil hat, it's well documented and in the public domain.

    But you'd never disagree publicly with a government decision right?

  6. andy gibson

    @AC - ANPR isn't "useless"

    Try going into any of the Mersey Tunnels with an untaxed, untested or uninsured car.

    By the time you get to the other end the police are waiting for you.

    ANPR works - its just the time delay between capturing on camera and intercepting that's the problem.

    1. King Edward I

      It's just the fact that your driving habits anhd thus, your movements, remain on a database for umpteen years that's the problem.

  7. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Population is Irrelevant

    "An analysis of the figures by Kable suggests that South Yorkshire makes the greatest use by head of population of ANPR of English forces, with 247 cameras for a population of 1.3m – nearly 19 cameras for each 100,000 people."

    Population is a stupid measure in this case. It's just a lazy use of statistics.

    Big cities like Sheffield have an awful lot of commuters from outside the local area, wouldn't it be wise to include them in the figure for population? More importantly however is the fact that the M1 and A1M passes through South Yorkshire. Does the report make any mention of how many of those cameras were average speed cameras in motorway road works?

    There's a stretch of motorway roadworks near me that has twelve individual cameras (three twin camera poles in each direction) in the space of less than a mile. I haven't driven the full length of those works just that first little bit, but if you multiply that out you could end up with an awful lot of cameras over a few miles of motorway.

    Norfolk OTOH isn't renowned for it's motorway network.

    A story like this doesn't mean much unless you break the cameras down by their different usage.

  8. RyokuMas

    "Norfolk Constabulary hardly uses them though"

    That's because the tractors are normally too coated in mud for them to work accurately...

    ... I'll get me coat. The one with "MY 60 JKT" on the back

  9. VulcanV5
    Big Brother

    South Yorks. . .

    Where Yorkshire's concerned, isn't it the case that cameras of any sort are in widespread use as a result of some kind of plod collective memory?

    As prompted by, amongst others, members of the local citizenry including "The Crossbow Killer", "The Black Panther", and, er, "The Yorkshire Ripper".

    Of course, not every one who lives in Yorkshire is a homicidal maniac. However, at a rate per head of population etc etc dee-dah-dee-dah-day. . .

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