I’m sorry… why is this not getting more press? I mean, the story was put out this morning, and it’s buried at number 13 on their UK page…
But anyway. The story is this:
Police are setting up a national network of cameras across England and Wales which they hope will dramatically increase the number of arrests.
Well, it would increase the number of arrests. Not that it’d cut down on the number of criminals out there, it’ll just catch people who have missed their car tax or who can otherwise be
milked legimately fined.
But that’s not why they’re doing it, no sirree.
He said the strategy was a “a key step in grasping the opportunities ANPR provides for denying criminals use of the roads.”
“The police service is now integrating ANPR into its day to day activities as a mainstream policing tool,” he said.
Oh yes. It’s denying criminals the use of the roads, honest.
Acpo said 13,499 people were arrested, including 2,263 for theft and burglary and 1,107 for drugs offences.
So, that’d be (13,499 – 1,107 – 2,263 = ) 10,129 people who were arrested for other offences. I wonder what they could be?
The use of ANPR during that year also led to more than 50,000 fixed penalty notices being issued for offences ranging from no insurance, not wearing a seatbelt and using a mobile phone while driving.
Well, that’s an eye opener. I can understand how ANPR caught people with no insurance (if the car has no MOT, then it can’t be insured, so stop cars with no MOT and bob’s your uncle, you have an offender). But how, exactly, is a numberplate reading camera going to catch people with no seatbelt? Or, my personal favourite, the old mobile phone thing. Perhaps the cops are just using the extra funding from this system to do old fashioned, Mark I eyeball, based police work? And that would mean that they’re reporting misleading figures for the success of the system… You know, in any other field of work than government, that would constitute fraud.
Oh, and there’s another thing that annoys me. We all know that gov.uk’s tendencency is towards big, centralised databases. So, follow on from a) these cameras and b) this love of big, central databases, and what do you have?
Yes, you guessed it: it’s a central, national, log of everybody’s movement! And you’ll not hear about it when they decide to actually put this all together, cos it’ll be buried at item 13 on BBC’s UK page.
ANPR doesn’t mean the police know anything more about your car than they did before, it’s just a way of saving time. Before ANPR if a police officer wanted to check a vehicle he’d call up on his radio and give a controller the number plate to check against a computer database, all of which took about a minute (unless there’s a queue on the radio, in which case it takes a little longer).
With ANPR, all this is done automatically by a computer connected to a camera, so it’s much quicker. This frees-up the police officer to look for things like people using mobile phones while driving (which causes accidents because you probably aren’t concentrating and only have one hand on the wheel).
And yes, the location of the check and the name of the officer doing it is recorded, mainly to detect corrupt officers doing illegal checks.
There are, of course, a lot of offences that are not theft, burglary or drugs related and are not traffic offences (very few people are going to get arrested for traffic anyway, since most of the offences are not arrestable). ANPR is good, for example, at catching people who are wanted on warrant (usually for failing to appear at court), breaking a curfew (issued as part of a bail or ASBO condition) or driving while disqualified.
My issue is with the automation of law enforcement. Back In The Day?, police had these things called discretion and judgement, now they have a computer that tells them what to do in all circumstances.
Oh, and I’m not that fond of the misleading statistics, either.
And I’m very worried about the inevitable tying of this technology into a centralised system that keeps track of cars, be it as part of a criminal justice system or some form of mileage charge.
And, for the mobile phone thing: COPS ALREADY HAD THE POWER TO STOP PEOPLE UNDER CARELESS/INCONSIDERATE OR RECKLESS DRIVING IF THEIR DRIVING WAS PROVABLY IMPAIRED BY THE USE OF A MOBILE PHONE. Making it a specific offence was totally un-necessary and does nothing but make criminals out of otherwise law abiding, safe drivers.
Yeah – umm what about a person who i happen to know quite well – flies helicopters for the RAF – this requires coordination of hands and feet to a degree much higher than that required to drive a car – while using the radio to stay in contact with other aircraft and his base – oh and other people in the aircraft – surely he can drive with a mobile fone – hell the government have spent millions ensuring he can fly a rather expensive piece of kit but if some plod seen him on the mobile behind the wheel of his 1.2 polo the full wrath of the police farce would be down on his head. I know you cant have one law for one set of people and another law for the rest but i would rather not live in a place where this kind of malarkey goes on: remember this?
Oh yes, and police officers are still allowed to use the radio while driving. Maybe it’s because they’re better than us plebes…
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[…] e. Not that it makes me feel much better. At the start of this year, it was revealed that ANPR was rolling out nationwide. And I said this was a very bad thing, with fears of Big Brother and all t […]