Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)

Why do we use ANPR?

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is used within the county to help detect, deter and disrupt criminals at a local, force, regional and national level, including tackling traveling criminals, organised crime groups and terrorists.

ANPR provides lines of enquiry and evidence in the investigation of crime and is used by forces throughout the UK.

How does ANPR work?

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 intercept and stop a vehicle, check it for evidence and, where necessary, make arrests. The use of ANPR in this way has proved to be important in the detection of many offences, including locating stolen vehicles, tackling uninsured vehicle use and uncovering cases of major crime. 

It also allows officers’ attention to be drawn to offending vehicles while allowing law abiding drivers to go about their business unhindered.

How long is ANPR data stored and who has access to it?

ANPR data collected by the Constabulary is stored locally for a period of one year and submitted to the National ANPR Data Centre (NADC) where it is stored together with similar data from other forces for the same period.

We have clear rules to control access to both local and national ANPR data aligned to the National ANPR Standards for Policing and Law Enforcement (NASPLE). For priority and volume investigations the majority of staff can only access ANPR data for a maximum period of 90 days from the date it was collected and it must be relevant to their role and for legitimate investigation purposes. In certain circumstances, for example if there has been a delay in reporting the offence or new evidence becomes available the access period may be increased to 12 months, but only by suitably authorised staff and with the written authority of a senior officer.

If the offence is classed as serious, major or counter terrorism related some staff, whose role dictates the requirement, are authorised to access ANPR data for up to one year without further authority

Searches of ANPR data can confirm whether vehicles associated with a known criminal has been in the area at the time of a crime and can dramatically speed up investigations.

Where are ANPR cameras?

As well as being mounted within police vehicles, ANPR cameras within Cheshire are used at fixed locations.  In line with national policy, we do not disclose details of our fixed locations as this information is likely to be of benefit to offenders and if known could reduce the value of ANPR to policing.

If the police want to install more ANPR cameras, an assessment must be conducted demonstrating a clear need, taking account of the following factors:

  • National security and counter terrorism
  • Serious, organised and major crime
  • Local crime
  • Community confidence and reassurance, and crime prevention and reduction

When assessing whether new cameras will be installed, a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) will be undertaken. We will consult with people and organisations with a reasonable interest in the proposal unless that would be contrary to the purpose of the development, namely to detect, deter and disrupt criminality.

Cheshire Constabulary is also committed to regularly review the location of ANPR cameras, in the context of the above criteria, to make sure that the continued deployment remains justified.  All reviews will include consideration of the impacts on privacy.

Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC) ANPR Self-Assessment 

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner ANPR Self-Assessment was conducted in October 2016 and is a voluntary assessment that identifies how well the force complies with the 12 guiding principles of the surveillance camera code of practice.

How do I find out more about ANPR? 

The Chief Constable is the data controller for the ANPR system operated within Cheshire Constabulary. Any requests for information or complaints should be made in the first instance to Trevor Longshaw who is the Cheshire Constabulary ANPR lead. You can contact him by calling 101 and ask for extension 5205/5255. Further information is also available on the website for the National Police Chiefs' Council.