Automatic Number Plate Recognition

Why we use ANPR

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is used within Wiltshire Police to help detect, deter and disrupt criminality at a local, force, regional and national level, including tackling traveling criminals, Organised Crime Groups and terrorists. ANPR provides lines of enquiry and evidence in the investigation of crime and is used by forces throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

How it works

As a vehicle passes an ANPR camera, its registration number is read and instantly checked against database records of vehicles of interest. Police officers can intercept and stop a vehicle, check it for evidence and, where necessary, make arrests.  The use of ANPR in this way has proved to be vital in the detection of the most serious crimes as well as locating stolen vehicles and tackling uninsured vehicle use. It also allows officers’ attention to be drawn to offending vehicles whilst allowing law abiding drivers to go about their business unhindered.

Access to stored data

ANPR data from Wiltshire Police is submitted to the National ANPR Data Centre (NADC) where it is stored together with similar data from other forces for a period of two years.

We have clear rules to control access to ANPR data to ensure that access is for legitimate investigation purposes.  Staff only have access to ANPR data if it is relevant to their role, and the majority of those who have permission may only do so for a maximum period of 90 days from the date it was collected. Some staff are authorised to access data for up to 2 years subject to authorisation of a senior officer. After 90 days, access may only be for serious, major or counter terrorism investigations and after 12 months only for major investigations and counter terrorism purposes.

Searches of ANPR data can confirm whether vehicles associated with a known criminal has been in the area at the time of a crime and can dramatically speed up investigations.

Camera locations

In addition to being mounted within police vehicles, ANPR cameras within Wiltshire Police are used at fixed locations where they will help to detect, deter and disrupt criminality.  In line with national policy, we do not disclose details of our fixed locations as this information is likely to be of benefit to offenders and if known could reduce the value of ANPR to policing.

National guidelines state that, if Wiltshire Police proposes to install additional ANPR cameras, an assessment must be conducted that demonstrates a clear need, taking account of the following factors:

  • National security and counter terrorism;
  • Serious, organised and major crime;
  • Local crime;
  • Community confidence and reassurance, and crime prevention and reduction.

In assessing whether new cameras are to be deployed, a Privacy Impact Assessment will be undertaken.  We will consult with persons and organisations with a reasonable interest in the proposal unless that would be contrary to the purpose of the development, namely to detect, deter and disrupt criminality.

Wiltshire Police is also committed to regularly review the location of ANPR cameras, in the context of the above criteria, to make sure that the continued deployment remains justified.  All reviews will include consideration of the impacts on privacy.

Further information

The Chief Constable is the data controller for the ANPR system operated within Wiltshire Police. Any requests for information or complaints should be made following the online process.

Home Office Guideline documents 

Procedure for the Development and Review of ANPR Infrastructure 
Information Commissioner's Officer website
National ANPR Standards for Policing part 1
National ANPR Standards for Policing part 2
National ANPR Standards for Policing part 3
The police use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition 
ANPR: The Olympic Data Feed
ANPR Factsheet 
ANPR National User Group (NUG) Terms of Reference
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Strategy 2016 - 2020
The Use of ANPR by Law Enforcement Agencies 

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