Staffordshire Police vehicle

More than half a million pounds has been earmarked to help track down vehicles involved in crime.

Staffordshire Police’s automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) provision is being boosted as part of a significant investment in resources to tackle crime on the county’s roads.

The force currently has a fleet of ten vehicles equipped with the technology, a report to the latest police performance meeting said, and work is taking place to identify “the right equipment and suppler to deliver both current and future ANPR needs”.

The report added:

“Once this is completed the implementation will commence with the 15 ANPR uplift being available between the end of 2023 and start of 2024, based on the current timeline.

“The ANPR provision also includes 40 static cameras and we are currently working with commercial to identify a supplier. The equipment is very different to that of the mobile fleet.

“Once the commercial stage is completed there are a number of technical activities that must be completed including site survey, structural and electrical testing; once this is all completed, it is a matter of identifying installation dates.

“Due to the range of additional activities that rely on third parties to support this work the timescales are less clear, but we are expecting to see the static cameras being online and operational during late spring/ early summer 2024.”

Staffordshire Commissioner Ben Adams was quizzed on the ANPR cameras at the Police, Fire and Crime Panel by a member of the public who queried whether data revealing the effectiveness of the technology would be released.

He responded that while operational activity data would not be published, but that the benefits of increasing coverage would be clear.

Commissioner Adams told the meeting:

“I’ve approved half a million pounds’ worth of investment in ANPR this year which is going to make a significant difference – more cameras all over the county, particularly at key junctions, tracking vehicles in and out of the county as well.

“Also more mobile ANPR cameras will mean every district has equipped vehicles.

“They are used for identifying vehicles without insurance and MOTs to some degree but their primary use is to identify known criminals, look for vehicles that are believed to have been stolen and particularly to monitor and assess situations, sometimes after a crime, to see which vehicles were in a locality. They aid investigation as well.

“They’re far more a robust tool in dealing with criminals that use our road networks in the widest sense. The real value is quite often you pull somebody over for something such as missing insurance and they’ll find stuff in the boot.”