The National ANPR Service as a tool to tackle violent crime

Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is widely deployed across the UK for policing purposes, enabling collation of an extensive dataset that is heavily used in both pro-active and re-active policing activity.  Data is collected and analysed in accordance with strict data protection and proportionality principles in compliance with legislation including Data Protection Act 2018 and agreed with the offices of the Information Commissioner and Surveillance Camera Commissioner.  Unique in the UK scenario is the availability of a national dataset allowing correlation of vehicle registration marks (VRMs) with Make, Model and Colour data.  This provides a rich and powerful dataset which can be used in support of investigations into serious and violent crime.

The Home Office is currently deploying a new National ANPR Service (NAS), based on Leonardo software, which will integrate ANPR analytic and real-time monitoring functions into a single national service available to Police Forces and other Law Enforcement Agencies.  Initially supplementing, and in due course replacing local facilities, NAS will enable police and law enforcement to act on national scale information to solve crime.

Leonardo’s software will be capable of identifying the movement of criminals.  It will be able to conduct analysis against other datasets to look for correlations and contribute to proportional intelligence gathering.  It will be able to identify suspicious behaviours such as target reconnaissance.  These results will be achieved by intelligence led statistical and real-time analysis of data feeds from deployed ANPR cameras.

For post event analysis NAS will provide capability to identify possible offenders, their associates and witnesses.  ANPR evidence is often used to establish an offender’s presence at a location.

In pro-active analysis NAS will be used as a powerful intelligence tool – enabling the identification of patterns that either directly suggest criminality, or are useful backdrops to understanding the criminal behaviour of known criminals.  It will be particularly powerful in tracking criminal networks and building maps of criminal gangs.  There will be powerful capabilities to detect the risk of imminent crime.

In real-time NAS will aid management of the aftermath of violent crime as a tool to help locate offenders’ movement after the event.

How does this relate specifically to violent crime?  ANPR is at its most powerful looking at complex criminal scenarios such as county lines drug running, closely associated with high levels of knife crime; the actions of criminal gangs who are highly likely to use violence to achieve their aims and has obvious application in Counter Terrorism.  Analysis of ANPR data allows targeted policing responses that allow efficient deployment of resources, thus maximising safety of the public and officers.

Overall, ANPR in general and the new National ANPR Service underpinned by Leonardo software will provide excellent tools to enable Policing and Law Enforcement to tackle complex and serious crime with high levels of efficiency and effectiveness enabling public safety.

This case study was contributed as part of techUK’s Digitally enabled public safety report: Harnessing the power of tech to tackle violent crime. You can access the full report here.

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