January 17th, 2010

Police make it up – fact!

Posted in The Job - General by 200

The chiefs at Hertfordshire won’t be pleased with some of their officers today; the Independent on Sunday reports that officers have contacted them to blow the gaff on the force’s use of ANPR.

I have reported previously on how ANPR is the new god in policing, often to the extent of other services.

ANPR is basically a camera system linked to a police & DVLA databases. They have been used in police cars for a while & major cities & towns have them stuck on poles on major roads. They film all the cars passing & within a second or two check the  number plate against various databases. They can tell whether the car has tax, is insured (possibly) or is suspected of being driven by a wanted person. If they get a ‘hit’ an alarm flashes up in the police control room & the vehicle can be stopped & dealt with.

This was lauded as a vital tool in the fight against crime. Now, instead of doing all the manual work involved in tracking someone down, we can just wait until his vehicle drives past an ANPR equipped police car or static point.

The Independent’s slant on the use or misuse, as it says, of ANPR is that it is not targetting the people it was designed to target, hardened criminals, it’s “penalising the mostly law-abiding middle class, while diverting enforcement resources from more serious, but hard-to-prosecute criminals.

The paper alleges that ANPR is being used in a “burgeoning target culture among enforcement agencies and local authorities seeking to bolster figures and income with so-called soft arrests and fines on otherwise law-abiding members of the public”.

Apparently, officers have contacted the paper to warn that up to 30% of the information held on ANPR databases is either incorrect or out of date which has lead to the incorrect arrest & siezing of vehicles. Further, they say that they are under  pressure to hit targets, “So fixated had officers become on their pursuit of arrests and ticket quotas that, until recently, the most successful vied for a prize known as the Bang It Out Cup. The officer with fewest results received the booby prize of an Underperforming Pig.

The paper alleges that officers or so led by the target culture that they sieize vehicles & issue tickets first & ask questions later. This is alienating huge swathes of otherwise law-abiding motorists. It further says that officers are making up reasons to arrest or ticket people just to keep up with quotas.

I’m not sure how many wrongly uninsured vehicles get siezed where I work. Officers know the databases can be incorrect or out of date & some insurance companies are quicker than others in getting insured vehicles onto the database, usually, if there is some issue of whether a car is insured or not, we give the officers the 24-hour telephone number for the insurance company & they can check with the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

I do know that road traffic policing is suffering as a result of the target culture (which the government says, incidentally, it has done away with – chief constables might think somewhat differently). I spoke with an old mate last week & asked how he was getting on in the traffic department. He’s been in it for 6 or 7 years. He says he hates it & can’t wait to leave the department. He  spends more time trying to keep up with his ticket & arrest figures that he is doing non-traffic related arrest warrants & being sent by the traffic sergeant to shoplifters. While he’s doing this he’s not sorting out dangerous drivers.

It really does seem like the government & chief constables are handing over the polcing of the roads & the education of motorists to a few thousand camera lenses & I’m not sure that will add anything to the improvement in road safety throughout the UK.

You can skip to the end and leave a comment. Pinging is currently not allowed. RSS 2.0


  1. bender the robot says:

    nothing wrong with ANPR- in the same way there is nothing wrong with a hammer… is the operator that is the issue…


    uninsured vehicles NEED removing!


    we telephone the insurance companies if we can.. and foot the bill if we are wrong..

    issue tickets? for what? speeding? simple answer to that one… dont speed…

    sometimes wonder what you are trying to say here?

    January 18th, 2010 at 06:33

  2. dickiebo says:

    Very well said 200!

    January 18th, 2010 at 07:18

  3. R/T says:

    Ring the MIB when they’re in (8 – 21) and HO/RT 1 when they’re not. Simples!

    January 18th, 2010 at 09:23

  4. john says:

    The preferred option is to impound the vehicle.
    Maximising income.
    Even having the certificate of insurance with you is not an effective “defense”.
    The best option is to check on http://www.askmid.com before you go out….and always remember that the MID is MOST likely to be in “error” after a renewal or change.

    January 18th, 2010 at 10:04

  5. Tony F says:

    ANPR doesn’t seem to work on the ‘travelling’ communities vehicles, just on people who will pay fines….

    January 18th, 2010 at 20:46

  6. R/T says:

    200 – do you get fed up with doctor melv spouting codswallop 24/7 all over your site?

    January 18th, 2010 at 20:50

  7. Civ_In_The_City says:


    It isn`t the civilian database managers that oversee a 3% error rate on the data. Any locally generated databases will contain a number plates of vehicles ‘of interest’ to that force (they also have databases from many other forces, ANPR is a good example of effective data sharing nationally).

    The bigger databases such as PNC and the DVLA ‘no-keepers’ and insurance databases are managed nationally or, in the case of the insurance companies, by private organisations.

    It ‘ain`t perfect, but it`s as close as it`s going to get to accurate information. I reckon 3% of the letters through my letter box are for someone else.

    That said, I can`t stand this addiction to stats chasing and number-massaging that`s enslaved all the right-thinking police officers into brainless, soul-less, cogs in the machine.

    Even when NuLabour says ‘no more targets’ they don`t mean it, and the chiefs haven`t a clue how to run things any other way.

    I bet one of them has targets, audits, spot-checks and cross-checking mechanisms so they can be top of the league for how many targets they`ve scrapped.

    Wood. Trees. (See also: Blindness).

    January 18th, 2010 at 21:52

  8. 36 years to 200 weeks formerly THE Gutsy Kid Detective says:

    3% could also be human error, mind. While it is a computerised system there will be a human hand behind it. You’re never going to get a 100% system – just look at false convictions in the court.

    January 18th, 2010 at 21:59

  9. 36 years to 200 weeks formerly THE Gutsy Kid Detective says:

    I was too late, damn me cooking my beans. But Civ in the City said everything I think.

    January 18th, 2010 at 22:01

  10. R/T says:

    I fed the troll, didn’t I? Week one, really!

    January 19th, 2010 at 08:44

  11. bender the robot says:

    dont feel bad R/T… melv is quite mad… we have all feed him… i wonder if he reads these out at his weekly group…

    January 19th, 2010 at 12:41

  12. anon says:

    R/T (really thick) trolled; fed himself and is responsible for, any overheating to either of his two remaining brain cells.

    January 19th, 2010 at 15:47

  13. Paul United Kingdom says:

    Yes there are issues with ANPR. I used to work for a major insurance company which sold motor insurance through brokers and sub brokers. One of our brokers had problems in transferring data (The registration and the fact that the person had motor insurance) from the sub-brokers to us and to the motor insurance institute database (MIID.) Police would refuse to accept the insurance certificate and arrest the motorist. Later they would call us and we would have to contact the broker to ensure that the coverage was in place. As a side note when the MIID database was introduced the question came up at the conference I was attending that in the event of the registration not being on the MIID database, what would the polices action be. We were told that a HORT1 would be issued.

    January 19th, 2010 at 21:11

Leave a comment