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How we use ANPR

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, which reads and retains vehicle registration plates, is used by the Constabulary in both a fixed and mobile capacity throughout Lancashire.

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 important in the detection of many offences, including locating stolen vehicles, tackling uninsured vehicle use and uncovering 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

ANPR data from Lancashire Constabulary is submitted to the National ANPR Service 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 and we adhere to the National ANPR Standards for Policing and Law Enforcement. 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. Certain staff are authorised to access data for up to 12 months subject to further scrutiny. After 90 days, access may only be for serious, major or counter terrorism investigations or where a senior officer has authorised access.

Camera locations

In addition to being mounted within police vehicles, ANPR cameras within Lancashire Constabulary 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 Lancashire 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, and crime prevention and reduction.

In assessing whether new cameras are to be deployed, a Data Protection 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.

Lancashire Constabulary 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.

Code of Practice and National Standards

The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice defines guiding principles for the use of ANPR which are applicable to police systems.  In addition National ANPR Standards for Policing (NASP) also provide the framework for the operation of ANPR by the police and other law enforcement agencies. Copies of this documents is available via the Government Publications website.

Surveillance Camera Commissioner ANPR self-assessment 

Surveillance Camera Commissioner ANPR Self-Assessmentwhich measures how the force complies with the 12 guiding principles of the surveillance code of practice can be accessed by clicking on this link SCC Self Assessment May 2023.  

Further information

The Chief Constable is the data controller for the ANPR system operated within Lancashire Constabulary.  If you wish to request further information please email us.