Dec '1602

ANPR Cameras: UK Driver's Survival Guide

What are ANPR cameras, and how do they work?

Automatic number plate recognition cameras are essentially photographic equipment designed specifically to do one job; note down vehicle number plates, or in motorists words ‘spy on us’.

Usually, ANPR cameras can comprise of a typical digital camera, with the added use of specialised hardware and software for tracking purposes.

Vehicles’ number plates are decoded using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) which is stored on data servers indefinitely, for the purpose of cross-referencing against multiple government agencies in the UK.

This is to identify both the driver and car details in a flash.

The Police can then intercept vehicles’ flagged up by the ANPR data network, and check for any evidence to support the initial alert, and make any necessary arrests should there be the need.

It’s all an automated process and is meant to make the process of catching motorists with efficiency and accuracy (however, as you’ll later read, ANPR cameras aren’t 100% accurate in their attempts to spot criminal behaviour).

Who is using them, what’s the need for them, and do they really work?

According to the Police.UK public information website, “Automatic Number Plate Recognition technologies are used to help deter and disrupt criminality at a local, force, regional and national level including tackling travelling criminals, organised crime groups and terrorists”.

You might be thinking that’s a huge ask for a relatively small network of cameras designed to flag up suspecting number plates’ - and you’d be right.

Sometimes, the innocent get tugged into the system without having committed any crimes at all, and it’s all down the complexity of obtaining and reading number plates at such awkward positions.

Cameras are often fixed high up, facing downwards at vehicles in places such as supermarket car parks, and public buildings.

More often than not, cameras are situated on police vehicles across the stretches of public highways; motorways and high-speed A-roads in mobile form too.

At this moment of writing, 47 of the largest councils in the UK have been given the go-ahead to use ANPR cameras across their districts.

In total, £182 million in fines has been collected by these 47 councils through the workings of the ANPR camera network; including fines for halting in yellow criss-cross boxes, unwarranted U-turns and bus lane endeavours.

Who leads for the highest number of cameras in any one district? Well, that’ll have to be Wandsworth Council with 122 cameras out of 768 at the time of writing.

As for the highest “income” earned from the cameras? Glasgow Council has had a cash boost of £4million in 2015 alone.

A money-making scheme is it? You can decide.

Is it perfectly legal? Indeed it is.

So, are the cameras here to stay?

With a 76% increase in the number of adoption amongst UK councils since 2012, we can defiantly say they’re here to stay, and they’re not limited to the public sector.

ANPR cameras are becoming heavily invested in by more and more private-based companies too, with private car park entities being just one.

Can I get caught out?

Drivers taking a Sunday stroll on bus lanes in the 47 aforementioned districts are to expect penalty charge notices (PCNs) through their letterboxes.

Criminal activities such as vehicles meant for off-the-road such as SORN are likely to be tracked, and flagged, as are drivers staying for an excessive number of hours in town and city private and public car parks.

Oversights such as not regularly checking your number plates can put you in crosshairs of the ANPR cameras too - as faded, cracked or even part-broken number plates could warn Police of your lacklustre maintenance efforts in keeping your number plates is good order.

How much can I get fined for broken, cracked or faded number plates?

You could potentially be slapped with a £1000 fine for possessing illegal number plates on vehicles currently on the road.

How can I stay off the radar and in good standing with the ANPR and Police?

Purchase a set of high-quality replacement number plates immediately, should you have faded, broken or cracked set of number plates on your vehicle.

With more and more ANPR camera technologies being deployed across the UK, it’s now becoming increasingly difficult for motorists to stay oblivious to regular maintenance checks on their number plates.

Does your vehicle require a set of brand new replacement number plates to stay ahead of the law? 

Why not design replacement number plates using our easy-to-use number plate maker?


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