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Policewatch Films

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Police vehicle surveillance – the use of Automatic Number Plate Readers at climate camp protests.

This weekend is the Climate Camp Swoop, and environmental activists will be heading to Radcliffe power station in Nottingham for the mass action. Many will be travelling by road, but Climate Camp activists driving to Radcliffe on the 17th October should be prepared to take a few precautions if they want to avoid being picked up by vehicle surveillance.

Police ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Reader) units have been used before at Climate Camp actions to alert police to the arrival of ‘known’ activists. Police at Kingsnorth used ANPR to monitor and intercept activist cars as they arrived. It is possible that a similar strategy will be used in Nottingham.

The police have for some years been collecting the vehicle registration numbers of vehicles used to get to protests, gatherings and even meetings. If your registration number is on this list, it could be picked up by the ANPR system.

How does ANPR work?

Motorways have permanent ANPR cameras, but mobile units can also be used on minor roads. Mobile ANPR units can be covert and hard to spot, but they are usually transit sized vans marked with camera symbols.

The cameras automatically read the number plates of cars passing by. The on-board computer then checks the numbers against a number of different databases. This is usually car registration, insurance, MOT etc, but the ANPR units can also check if your car is on a list of ‘protest’ vehicles.

If the ANPR flags up a ‘hit’ the police can be instructed either to simply note the fact you have arrived (perhaps flagging you up for more targeted surveillance), or to intercept the car. If you are stopped the police have powers to search the car similar to those they would use on a pedestrian (see below).

How do I avoid getting picked up by ANPR?

This is a fairly new police tactic, so advice in avoiding ANPR is based on informed guesswork only. There are no guarantees!

If possible, drive a car that has never been used to get to a protest or gathering before. In theory at least, if you have not used your car in ‘protest related activity’ before, it should not be picked up.

Borrow a vehicle from friends and family rather than hire one. Hire cars were routinely picked up by ANPR readers in Kingsnorth, so are not the ideal choice!
Don’t take a car without insurance and MOT – ANPRs are routinely used to pick up cars that are not street legal.

Take a longer, quieter route in. At Kingsnorth ANPR was put on the major access routes. The police have limited ANPR resources and can’t put all roads under surveillance, although they will try to cover those routes that are hardest to avoid.

Get dirty. ANPR readers need a standard, UK, clean number plate to get a read. Non-standard number plates, foreign plates and plates that are very dirty cause problems for the ANPR. You might want to drive down a very wet muddy road before you get there.

What should I do if notice an ANPR unit by the side of the road?

Note down all the details – location, direction, time etc – and let others know who may be travelling that way. And please tell us – the more info we have, the better we can keep track of what they are up to.

What powers do they have to stop and search a vehicle?

The police have the power to stop any vehicle, and ask the driver for their driving licence. Contrary to what some coppers say, you do not have to carry your driving licence with you, although you can be asked to produce it at a police station of your choice within seven days.

The driver of the vehicle is obliged to give their name, address and date of birth (s164 s165 Road Traffic Act 1988). The police have NO powers to demand the names and addresses of passengers. If they ask anyone other than the driver for their details they should be politely told where to go.

Police can carry out the stop and search of a vehicle under the same provisions applying to people on foot. A section 60 order, if in place, also applies to vehicles. Otherwise the police can search under PACE, but need the normal reasonable suspicion that they may find weapons, articles that could be used to cause criminal damage etc. They do not need the owners consent.



Anonymous said...

I wonder how they store and use the data they gather?

~PakKaramu~ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Mud won't work, ANPR can recognise when plate has been rendered unreadable and flags it up anyway.

Anonymous said...

How cares? The New World Order is here, we lost...

Anonymous said...

14 October 2009 08:47

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Anonymous said...

ANPR focussed on intercepting protesters may not pick up cars with illegible plates, particularly if the ANPR is on a motorway or busy dual carriageway. In that scenario, mud may well work.

Really Fit said...

Reports have come in (Friday evening, around 9pm) of activists being stopped as a result of ANPR on their way to Nottingham. At least one car has been stopped on the A453, shortly after having left the M42.

Intercept vehicles quickly handed over to local traffic police, who crawled all over the car, eventually finding a small amount of damage on a tyre wall. They then insisted on RAC recovery, and dished out 3 points and £60 fine.

Harassment of protesters? Surely not...

Watching Them, Watching Us said...

The Police National ANPR Database seems to have a specific "Warning Marker" entitled "Protest", which could be used to blacklist a vehicle (probably forever)

The Management and Use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (.pdf 892Kb)

Appendix 2
NAAS Database


3rd WORD

Drink Drive

For silent checks enter NO STOP

See ACPO policy on ANPR: The Management and Use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition for more details

Anonymous said...

i was interested to note that you seem to think that the police have a right to ask you for your name address and date of birth. but it is my understanding that unless you have actually committed an offence or someone else has reported you doing so then this is not the case. the act which you quote is from a statute and a statute according to blacks law dictionary only carries the force of law by consent of the governed. therefore if you do not consent it has no power over you. please don't take my word for this check out these sites for a huge wealth of info on this subject :-

Really Fit said...

Anon, you are right, but specific provisions in the Road Traffic Act apply to persons driving a vehicle. This is the only time when you are legally obliged to provide details if you have not committed an offence or anti-social behaviour.

Anonymous said...

hi really fit, as you say the provisions in the act apply to persons. blacks law dictionary clearly states that a person is a legalised fiction. you are a human being not a person. you are not a person you have a person. giving your name address and date of birth gives the authorities joinder, which means they have now got you the human being to agree to represent your person. as i said before check out the websites i mentioned, in particular "it's an illusion 2" on tpuc and "bursting the bubbles of government deception" on thinkfree

Anonymous said...

If I was plod and I wanted to rack up some fixed penalties, I'd stick my van there too, plus festivals and anywhere else that wowdy webels gather. As for having a Protest flag, well there's more than one kind of protester. I'd like them to be able to spot the fact that a number of cars used by the BNP are in convoy somewhere. Hopefully they'd get flagged as 'Protest' too. Come on, you'd be bored without the attention. And there's nothing wrong with New World Order; Blue Monday was brilliant.

Cu Glas A'Tuin said...

Here's my suggestion: Club together with others and get a Taxi or Mini-Cab...

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Anonymous said...

hi can you tell me if your car flags up for apolice stop as my brother seems to have his car pulled over alot and its not wreck hes driving or a sportie thing just a basic vectra car. it has been known to have been found previously with drugs. thanks

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