It is reported that more than 50 local authorities across the UK have now signed agreements allowing the police to convert thousands of existing traffic cameras so they can read number plates automatically.
Fleet NewsNet reported last year that police planned to push through plans to create a network of cameras (Fleet NewsNet, November 17).
Police are now also talking to the Highways Agency, supermarkets and petrol station owners to include their own CCTV cameras into the network.
From March, data will be collected on the movements of every motorist using the UK’s road network and fed into a central database installed alongside the Police National Computer in Hendon, north London.
The system will alert police of a car is stolen, if road tax has not been paid, if the MoT is out of date or if the driver is uninsured. Fleets are also being told they could also see their accidents rates drop as traffic officers believe the system will rid the road network of disqualified drivers, who are more likely to be involved in an accident.
This would also impact on fleets who are victims of accidents with an uninsured driver so are left financially out of pocket.
Frank Whiteley, chief constable of Hertfordshire Police and chairman of a chief constables’ steering committee, said the Big Brother nature of the operation was justified.
He said: ‘In simple terms, criminals use vehicles. If you want to commit a crime, you’re going to use a vehicle. There is nothing secretive about it, and we don’t want it to be secret, because we want people to feel safer, to see that they are protected.’
The Hendon centre is expected to store details of some 35 million numberplates recorded each day with the time of the identification and the location.