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Automatic number plate recognition

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is a technology to help us detect, deter and disrupt criminality at a local, regional and national level. This includes tackling travelling criminals, organised crime groups and terrorists.

ANPR provides us with evidence when investigating crime.

How ANPR works

ANPR cameras read registration numbers of vehicles when they drive past them. The camera checks the registration against records of vehicles of interest.

Police officers can stop a vehicle and check it for evidence and will make arrests, if necessary.

All registration numbers that pass an ANPR camera are stored. This includes vehicles that are not currently of any interest at the time a vehicle passes a camera. The reason all camera data is recorded, is that the information taken at the time may be useful for an investigation at a later date.

Using ANPR like this has proven important in the detection of many offences, such as;

  • finding stolen vehicles
  • uninsured vehicle use
  • terrorism
  • other major or organised crimes.

ANPR also helps our officers to become aware of offending vehicles.

How ANPR data is managed

All forces submit data to the National ANPR Data Centre on a daily basis. 

ANPR data helps us identify vehicles associated with crimes, including terrorism, which helps speed up investigations.

Employees of police forces only have access to ANPR data if it's relevant to their job role. Those staff who have access to this data only have permission for a maximum of 90 days from the date the data was collected. Other staff may have permission to access data for up to 12 months, if authorised by a senior officer.

Police forces review ANPR camera locations to make sure their locations are necessary.

The Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Constabulary is the data controller for ANPR across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. 

ANPR camera locations

ANPR cameras are installed in police vehicles and at fixed locations. Due to national policy, we are not able to disclose details of the fixed locations. This is because the locations of ANPR cameras may benefit offenders and could reduce the value of ANPR to police forces.

If a police force wish to install an ANPR camera at a new location, as assessment is carried out to understand the need for that particular location. New camera location reasons may be for;

  • national security and counter terrorism
  • serious organised and major crime
  • local crime
  • community reassurance
  • crime prevention and reduction.

A new camera location assessment will include a Privacy Impact Assessment and consultation with the local community and organisations who may have a reaonable interest.

Law enforcement agencies review ANPR camera locations to make sure their locations are still necessary. Reviews also include the impacts of privacy.

ANPR contacts

Enquiries about ANPR should be emailed to for the attention of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire ANPR manager.

ANPR information is to be requested through Freedom of Information, which can be requested online.

If you have a complaint that relates to ANPR, please submit your complaint online, which will be handled by our Professional Standards Department. 

Additional information can be found on National Police Chiefs' Council website (opens in a new window.

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