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Why we use ANPR

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is used within Essex to help detect, deter and disrupt criminality at a local, force, regional and national level, including tackling travelling 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 a police monitored 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 important in the detection of many offences, including locating stolen vehicles, tackling uninsured vehicle use and investigating cases of major crime.

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

Our ANPR data is submitted to the National ANPR Data Centre (NADC) where it is stored together with similar data from other forces for a period of one year.

We have clear rules controlling access to ANPR data to ensure that access is for legitimate investigation purposes. Only officers and staff with appropriate training have access to ANPR data if it's relevant to their role, and they may normally only do so for a maximum period of 90 days from the date it was collected.

Access to data for up to one year will be subject to the authorisation of a senior officer. After 90 days, access may only be for priority & volume crime, serious, major or counter terrorism investigations and up to twelve 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 expedite investigations.

Camera locations

In addition to being mounted within police vehicles, police monitored ANPR cameras within Essex 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 we propose 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 Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) will be undertaken.  We will consult people 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.

More information

The Chief Contstale is the data controller for the ANPR system operated within Essex. Detective Chief Superintendent Rob Fordham is the Senior Responsible Officer (SRO). Any requests for information should be made to:

ANPR Manager,
Essex Police Headquarters,
PO Box 2,
Chelmsford, Essex

Any correspondence relating to complaints should be sent to:

Professional Standards,
Essex Police Headquarters,
PO Box 2,
Chelmsford, Essex

For further information on how police use ANPR technology including national ANPR standards and the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice please visit

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