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Road spy cameras will track criminals

London Evening Standard | March 23, 2005
By David Williams

A new national network of mobile cameras is to track criminals on the roads.

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras - linked to an extensive database - will pinpoint vehicles police want to trace.

The system led to a dramatic increase in arrests when it was tested by 23 forces between June 2003 and June last year, police say.

The cameras, mounted in vans, scan number plates and check them against a police database containing more than 8.5 million registrations.

It takes less than a second, allowing police at checkpoints to stop "wanted" vehicles immediately and question the occupants.

Last year the Government pledged ?15 million to support the ANPR rollout over the next year.

The Association of Chief Police Officers said that during the trials 13,499 people were arrested, including 2,263 for theft and burglary and 1,107 for drugs offences.

Civil rights group Liberty said it had concerns about the roll-out of the system. Campaign coordinator Doug Jewell said: "We feel that what the police should be talking about is tackling specific problems with the new cameras."

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