Meredydd Hughes, head of road policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), wants the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras to be installed every 400 yards on motorways, as well as at supermarkets, petrol stations and in town centres.
The cameras, designed to crack down on uninsured driving, road tax evasion and stolen cars, are linked to the DVLA and the police national computer.
The police have found that uninsured drivers and those without valid tax are disproportionately involved in other criminal activity.
Several thousand of the cameras are already in operation and fines from motorists will be used to expand the network.
Hughes told the Sunday Times: ‘Where we install CCTV systems, we will also install ANPR.
‘There are lots of plans to use all the existing camera systems we can. The aim is to deny criminals the use of the roads.’
However, civil liberties groups are concerned as details of any vehicle passing a camera will be stored in a database for at least two years, even if the owner has not committed an offence.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties campaign Liberty, said: ‘Big national databases have joined sweeping police powers and ever more criminal offences and a new panacea of policing.’
But John Dean, ACPO’s national ANPR coordinator, said: ‘People say ‘why are you spending all this time catching people going three miles over the speed limit when you should be catching criminals?’ This is exactly what ANPR does.’