Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)

Why we use ANPR

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is used to help find 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.  A record for all vehicles passing by a camera is stored, including those for vehicles that are not known to be of interest at the time.

Retention and access to stored data

ANPR data from Norfolk & Suffolk Constabularies are 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.

Strict rules are in place to control access to ANPR data from the date of its collection to ensure it is used for legitimate investigation purposes. 

Up to max 90 days: access for staff if relevant to their role.

90 days – 12 months: access for staff for serious, major or counter terrorism investigations only.

12 months – 24 months: access for some staff subject to authorisation of a senior officer and in relation to major investigations and counter terrorism investigations only.

Camera locations

ANPR cameras within Norfolk and Suffolk are mounted within police vehicles and at fixed locations to help detect, deter and disrupt criminality.  In line with national policy, details of the fixed locations are not disclosed in order to protect the value of ANPR to policing.

National guidelines state that if Norfolk or Suffolk Constabulary 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
  • crime prevention and reduction.

In deciding whether new cameras are to be deployed, a Privacy Impact Assessment will be undertaken.  Consultation will take place with persons and organisations with a reasonable interest in the proposal unless that goes against the aim of detecting, deterring and disrupting criminality. The location of ANPR cameras are regularly reviewed to make sure that are fulfilling this purpose.  All reviews consider the impact of ANPR on privacy.

Code of Practice and National Standards

The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice defines principles for the use of ANPR which are applicable to police systems.  National ANPR Standards for Policing (NASP) also provide the framework for the use of ANPR by the police and other law enforcement agencies. Copies of these documents are available here.

Further information

The Norfolk Chief Constable is the data controller for the ANPR system operated within Norfolk Constabulary. 

Any requests for information or complaints should be made to the ANPR Support Hub by calling 01473 782670 or 01473 782675.