Cumbria expands scanning capability

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) scanners have now been fitted to 12 of Cumbria’s patrol vehicles. The systems will be used for static checks and by mobile patrols.

Sep 21, 2006
By David Howell
Sergeant Matiu Ratana

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) scanners have now been fitted to 12 of Cumbria’s patrol vehicles. The systems will be used for static checks and by mobile patrols.

Superintendent Steve Turnbull said: “It is a simple fact of life that many criminals need to use motor vehicles to commit crime. It is particularly true in rural areas such as Cumbria and for those criminals who travel long distances on motorways such as the M6 and A74, often to deal in illegal drugs. Criminals from within Cumbria and those from outside the county who travel here to commit crime are targeted by the Constabulary with a view to intercepting them as they travel.

“Using intelligence, we are able to identify those motor vehicles that are being used by criminals. We are then able to place an intelligence entry on the Police National Computer (PNC), or to use similar information contained on other databases, to identify the criminal use of particular vehicles.

“Electronic ANPR equipment, fitted to a specially equipped van used on static checks, or similar equipment fitted to Mobile Support Group (MSG) patrol cars, is then used by patrolling officers to read number plates. In the event of an entry being detected by the equipment, the officers are able to immediately access the relevant database and the information recorded in respect of each suspect vehicle, and to then take appropriate action, including stopping it to speak to the occupant(s). Where appropriate, the occupant(s) will be arrested and the vehicle seized.”

The use of scanning equipment has resulted in arrests and the confiscation of vehicles that later proved to have large quantities of drugs and cash concealed in them.

Superintendent Turnbull concluded: “Because of the effectiveness of ANPR, Cumbria Constabulary has invested in a substantial expansion of its ANPR capability. To date, our primary ANPR capability has relied upon static checks using the specially equipped van. We have now equipped twelve MSG patrol cars with state of the art ANPR equipment that can operate 24 hours per day, i.e. the equipment can operate during the hours of darkness. These vehicles will be on patrol throughout the county on a 24-hour basis and, because of the equipment fitted to them, the police officers who crew the cars will have instant access to ANPR databases.”

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