A car linked to a theft spree at four shops has been seized and 15 people have been held to account for driving offences thanks to a hi-tech device that helps police spot suspects using Nottinghamshire’s roads.
An automatic number plate camera (ANPR) has been operating inside a Newark Police response vehicle since February 2021 – giving mobile officers an instant alert when a vehicle passes by which may have been used in a crime or is being driven illegally.
This allows them to quickly react and stop suspects in in their tracks there and then.
In one incident, the mobile device identified a car which had been involved in four shop thefts. It was traced to a road in Newark and this information led to the vehicle being seized.
The occupants were nowhere to be seen but this has meant that criminals have been unable to use this vehicle again to conduct their offending. Vital evidence has been seized and officers are now conducting enquiries on the vehicle which will provide a number of leads for investigative teams to work with.
The spree of shop thefts happened at stores in Main Street in Lowdham; Upton Road in Southwell; Southwell Road East in Rainworth; and King Street in Southwell between 3.20pm on 9 March and 4.40pm the following day. A total of £130 worth of goods was stolen during one of the offences.
The ANPR car has also led to at least 15 people being held to account for driving offences, which include not having a licence and not being insured, and has also contributed to a number of ongoing investigations.
The cameras are just one example of Nottinghamshire Police’s growing use of innovative technology to help tackle crime and keep the people of Nottinghamshire safe. Others include the introduction of a drone team – who use the flying ‘eyes in the sky’ to track suspects and find missing people – and mobile fingerprint scanners – which allow officers to streamline investigations by taking fingerprints electronically on the front line, without the need to take suspects to a police station.
Heather Sutton, District Commander for Newark and Sherwood, said: “Criminals need to be warned that we have a number of ways to instantly link them to a crime and track them down, and they never know when they might get caught out by us.
“I’m really pleased to see this technology making such a big difference to crimes in our area and it’s undoubtedly making our roads much safer whilst contributing to enquiries for some very serious offences.
“It’s really important that people make sure they have the right documentations to drive their vehicle and that it is fit for the road, otherwise we will be tracking them down and holding them to account for driving offences.”
The ANPR device installed inside the police vehicle works by reading registration plates as they drive past them and checking them through the national police database. The driver then gets notified of any anomalies which helps them target any vehicles which need to be stopped and checked.
As well as detecting traffic offences, they can also assist in police pursuits and identifying vehicles of interest connected to organised crime groups on a national level.
The force has been exploring the use of mobile technology for at least ten years and is now utilising this method across a number of different teams including operational Support, Operation Reacher, proactive teams and Response throughout Nottinghamshire.
This latest mobile camera device and has been funded by the Newark Safer Streets project after Home Office money was obtained for the area which has also seen an increase in static ANPR cameras in the Newark area.
Inspector Jonathan Naylor, of Nottinghamshire Police’s intelligence unit, said: “This is part of our wider plan to utilise the latest technology in order to help us catch more criminals and we can do this be identifying suspicious vehicles on our roads.
“This will help gather vital evidence to enable investigations to be solved quickly and efficiently whilst freeing officers up to work on other projects which in turn make the county safer.
“We need information from members of the public to help us make the best use of technology, in the case of ANPR, details of vehicles used by criminals can be the intelligence needed to make an arrest or solve an investigation and bring an offender to justice.”
People with information are asked to call Nottinghamshire Police on 101. They can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.