Harrogate Police
ANPR in use within a Harrogate Police vehicle

Major upgrade of number plate recognition system to catch more criminals

The  North Yorkshire Police is to make a major investment in its existing automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) with £250,000 to increase its functionality and bring up to date.

The upgrade is the first step in the expansion of the ANPR system, with the next being many more vehicles equipped with the cameras.

The system reads number plates automatically and then looks-up in a database if there is a reason to stop a vehicle. It all happens near instantaneously and with any number plate in the field of view of the camera. A typical traffic vehicle has one forward facing and two rear facing. This allows them to capture number plates from oncoming vehicles or number plates from vehicles on  lanes 1 to 3 when they are travelling in the middle lane.

Sergeant Ian Butler of North Yorkshire Police said:

This is a major upgrade of our back office systems for ANPR, as the current system has been in and working for a number of years now.

ANPR is all about denying criminals the use of the roads. When a vehicle passes an equipped vehicle, or a static camera, the number plate is read and processed – that data is then used to interrogate a number of databases.

Many people think that ANPR is all about catching people speeding, but it doesn’t detect vehicle speed. It is used to check for insurance and road tax, but the primary use is in catching criminals.

As an example, if there was an incident within Harrogate and a witness managed to read part of a number plate and saw the colour of the vehicle, this would then be put into the ANPR database and if that vehicle passed an ANPR car it would then flash up as a vehicle we needed to stop as a priority.

The system has the capability to interrogate many databases such as counter-terrorism, road fund licence, insurance and stolen vehicles. The system is also linked between forces so that if an offenders number is in North Yorkshire ANPR, that number will be tracked country-wide.


Sergeant Ian Butler of North Yorkshire Police said:

The system allows us to work more efficiently and deploy officers where they are really needed.

The new system will be big step forward, it gathers more intelligence and allows it to be used in a much more effective way.



Traffic Inspector Paul Cording demonstrates the system
Traffic Inspector Paul Cording demonstrates the system



Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said:

This upgraded system will enhance our capability, and North Yorkshire residents will be safer and better protected as a result.

Communities should feel safer knowing the police are watching criminals at all times, and we should ultimately have less victims of cross border serious and organised crime.


Acting Assistant Chief Constable Ken McIntosh said:

The automatic number plate recognition system is an invaluable tool in assisting the police service to identify and target those criminals who travel into and around our county with the intention of committing crime.

This investment will enhance the effective use of ANPR to ensure our communities can be safe and feel safe.


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