Police Using Licence Plate-Reading Cameras to Monitor Drivers

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 24: A motorway sign on the M8 motorway advising on essential travel only on March 24, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon along with British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced strict lockdown measures last night urging people to stay at home and …
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

An English police force is using licence plate recognition technology to monitor drivers and make sure they are only making “essential” journeys during the third Chinese coronavirus lockdown.

According to the UK’s National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is used to “disrupt criminality” and track travelling “criminals, Organised Crime Groups, and terrorists”.

Devon and Cornwall Police’s ‘crime tsar’ announced on Monday that the force will be using the technology to check alleged breaches of lockdown. Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez complained of reports of “hundreds” of “covid breaches” when Britons from other parts of the country travelled to their second homes in the West Country.

She said according to Plymouth Live: “As such, I welcome the force’s use of ANPR to monitor vehicle movements and make sure the only journeys being made here are essential ones. Using this technology helps us see where certain vehicles have come from and allows officers to further investigate their reasons for travel.”

The news outlet explained that static cameras will register drivers entering the area, and every officer in the force will have access to an ANPR app so they can see details of the vehicles that drive by.

At the end of last year, Devon and Cornwall Police said that they would be questioning drivers entering Cornwall, which at the time was the only county still left in Tier 1, to ensure that Englishmen from the rest of the nation did not travel there, as coronavirus rules for pubs were most relaxed than elsewhere.

Technology also appears to have been used by Dorset Police before interrogating a woman on grounds she had taken too many walks in one day, with footage of the encounter going viral last week. The video revealed that one officer told the woman suspected of having spent too much time outside: “At the moment you’re allowed out for exercise once a day.

“You’ve been filmed today in the town centre and around here and walking up and down.”

In the New Year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson thrust the whole of England under a third lockdown, banning so-called unnecessary travel. Exercise was also limited to once a day, and must only be taken locally.

Despite reports that the prime minister was reportedly seen cycling seven miles from home at Olympic Park — while Hyde Park, Green Park, and St James’s Park were closer to Downing Street — Mr Johnson said that he would tighten lockdown even further if people did not follow the rules.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.