Picture of Automatic Number Plate Recognition camera on police ARV in Leeds.
Brig brother is here right now in Leeds and other towns and cities across the UK. I was talking to a police firearms officer on Briggate about the ARV that he and his colleague were using when I noticed the camera fixed to the roof.
I knew a little about the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) having seen it on TV and knew that many police traffic cars had it installed. As can be seen in the above photo it is also installed on some of the West Yorkshire Police ARV cars too.
Now I am quite sympathetic the the idea that the police need all the help they can get to catch the various baddies that exist in our country. ANPR is a great tool enabling the police driving around to be alerted when they pass a car flagged by the system.
ANPR can also be used to monitor car parking, not by the police but by private companies like ASDA the supermarket. Many cities across the UK have ANPR cameras fixed and watching main roads and motorway access and exit roads. Bradford has ANPR cameras across the city and it was using this network that the police were enable to track the getaway car used in a hold up at a travel agents in the city where police constable Sharon Beshenivsky was shot and killed and her colleague Teresa Millburn was seriously wounded.
Put the public (police and security service) and the private (car parks) ANPR cameras together and anyone with access to the information can build up a pretty good picture of the movements of a vehicle and its owner.
The Nazis and the various regimes of the communist run countries of the former Eastern block would have loved a system like ANPR. I suggest anyone interested in how a state can monitor and control its subjects should get and watch the film The Lives of Others (German: Das Leben der Anderen). A drama about the devastating effect of the secret Stasi police force on ordinary citizens in East Germany. I saw this film at the cinema on release and it is a good movie and regardless of the subject I would recommend it.
None of the above is meant to imply that our police here in west Yorkshire are in any way comparable to the the STASI or the GESTAPO, they do not make the rules or policy.