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London's King of Clamps shuts down numberplate camera site

Complaints made to Advertising Standards Authority

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The inventor of the much-hated London wheel clamp has shut down a website which advertised a automatic numberplate recognition system which he'd claimed was capable of spotting tax dodgers, disabled people and terrorists.

Trevor Whitehouse voluntarily closed the site ANPRinabox.com after parking activists filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority.

He told El Reg he pulled the page because he "couldn't be arsed" to argue with the ASA.

However, the anonymous person who issued the complaint told us it was proof that Whitehouse's claims were false.

His company, ANPR Limited, is dedicated to "writing and creating mathematical algorithms that are use in numberplate detection".

Using the Wayback Machine, we were able to see his company's claims that the ANPR in a box system could detect "car thieves, terrorists or undesirables such as shop lifters".

Clamps King insisted the system was capable of all these things and more.

"We did not have the time or inclination to fight over a website we don't use anymore," Whitehouse said. "If say I can make a wheel clamp that's the best in the world, I do it. In fact, I did it. If I say I can create mathematical algorithms to bring about prosecution for criminal offences or speeding between GATSO cameras, then I can.

"It was far easier to get about my business and keep on being creative rather than arguing the toss."

Whitehouse has recently recovered from Lyme Disease and has launched a "crusade" against phone phreaking.

In a ruling which will be published on 5 February, the ASA will say it closed the file on ANPRinabox.com and will not carry out a full investigation, because the site is now shuttered.

We were shown a letter to the person who originally made the complaint, in which the ASA said: "The advertiser has already assured us that the advertising you complained about has been withdrawn and they will ensure they hold evidence before making any claims in future.

"We consider there is little to be gained from continuing from a formal investigation, which would achieve that same outcome."

The anonymous complainer who forwarded us a copy of the ASA's letter added: "ANPR in a Box claimed their cameras could automatically check whether a driver was disabled, assess whether a car's tax was up to date, determine the weight of an HGV and check whether a car has valid road tax or MOT.

"One could only imagine the delight of MI5 to know such technology exists, and for less than £1,000! Unfortunately some suspicious minds out there queried these claims. Clearly, we've seen such technology on Spooks, but does it really exist?

"The short answer is no." ®

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