Feeds

IPCC chief: ANPR is 'a victim of its own success'

System provides too much information ...

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The commissioner of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has said there are severe difficulties in running automatic numberplate recognition systems.

Nicholas Long said that ANPR systems are often overwhelmed with information and cannot be monitored properly.

He was speaking following an investigation by the IPCC into police use of ANPR intelligence on Peter Chapman, who murdered 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall in October 2009.

"The ANPR system is championed as a wonderful tool for police forces," Long said. "However, it has undoubtedly become a victim of its own success in that the amount of information contained in the system and the hits generated have made it virtually impossible to monitor adequately, given police resources."

The investigation concluded that the quality of the information put into the Police National Computer (PNC) varies greatly and the PNC is sometimes being used for minor issues. As a consequence, a possible overload of information on ANPR monitoring systems could lead to high- and medium-priority issues being missed.

In relation to the Chapman case, the IPCC said that on 23 October 2009 Merseyside Police put information on the PNC stating that Chapman was wanted for arson, breach of the sex offenders' register and theft, along with information about the car he was driving.

Between 23 to 26 October 2009, static ANPR cameras in Cleveland, Durham and North Yorkshire picked up Chapman's car on 16 occasions. But it was only information from the last occasion at 5.07pm on 26 October which resulted in his arrest.

Chapman pleaded guilty to murder at Teesside Crown Court in March 2010 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The investigation determined that the systems for monitoring ANPR hits differed greatly between the three police forces.

In the North Yorkshire police area there were 14,413 ANPR hits on the four days in question. Two hits related to Chapman's car, but the force knew nothing of them at the time because it only monitored its ANPR systems in relation to specific operations.

The Cleveland police area has some 2,650 hits per day. There were 12 hits on seven different cameras relating to Chapman's car, but again the force does not monitor its ANPR systems around the clock.

In the Durham constabulary area there are approximately 6,000 hits per day and two hits were generated in relation to Chapman's car on 25 October. The constabulary's control room staff monitor its ANPR system and area dispatchers have responsibility for the monitoring of ANPR activations within their geographical area.

A hit showing Chapman's car at 7.48pm went unnoticed because relevant staff were not logged into the system. A hit at 8.25pm showed Chapman's car leaving the Durham constabulary area, but the ANPR system was configured so that vehicles leaving the area were not flagged on dispatchers' systems.

Long called for a full review of how the ANPR system is operated including the development of consistent policies for the monitoring of the system across all forces, the prioritisation of information and the accurate input of data.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian News and Media, covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register, email james.longhurst@guardian.co.uk at Guardian Government Computing.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.