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How Does ANPR Work?

Published: 17/07/2023

What is ANPR?

ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) is a software originally developed in the UK by the, then titled, Police Specific Development Brand (now known as the Home Office Specific Development Branch) for use by police.

However, uses were found in many other departments in need of surveillance and security. On a basic level, ANPR photographs vehicle registration numbers, however, it does more than just this. Linking up to a nationwide database, ANPR systems allow the police (and car parks) to check vehicle details and issue fines where necessary.

ANPR works by reading each number plate using an optical character recognition which allows the image of the plate to be rewritten, using machine-coded text, into a tag which is unique to the plate. The software then connects to a database which contains information on each registered plate and creates location data to be cross referenced against existing information for purposes related to traffic, law enforcement and, in the case of car parks, time period in a location.

It is designed to be able to adjust to difficult angles or perspectives and uses infrared technology to allow pictures to be taken at any time of day.


What is ANPR Parking?

ANPR parking systems are car parks which utilise and benefit from ANPR software. Within carparks, ANPR is used to photograph and register the arrival and departure of each vehicle so that it is known how long the vehicle has been inside.

Private and local authority-owned car parks both utilise ANPR parking systems since it allows them to process payments with ease (the required amount is displayed when a user enters their registration number into the pay machine), as well as offer other user-friendly features such as advertising the number of spaces available in the car park, and ticketless parking.

Additionally, by registering a person’s number plate, they are less likely to overstay which means the turnover of spaces increases, and the system supports cashless payment solutions since it can be connected to online payment services. It is important to weigh up the pros and cons of an ANPR system for your carpark as it’s not the only car parking solution available.


Authority and Legality

ANPR has been used for over forty years in the UK as a means to identify and track vehicles within a specific environment. ANPR software is used in a variety of applications, but their use in fixed locations like those of speed cameras and tolls means that the specific locations of these cameras are not publicised as knowledge of this could be used to the benefit of potential criminals. ANPR car parks however, are often well signposted to ensure the user understands the rules and regulations that apply when using the carpark.

Private companies and local authorities can own ANPR carparks and therefore both can collect data on thousands of people. It is for this reason that in 2014 it was the opinion of the Government that it was unlawful to use ANPR systems in public car parks and the DVLA refused to supply information to local authorities for these.

Now it is the case that the DVLA will only release information on a vehicle’s driver when the company  requesting the information is a member of the Accredited Trade Association. Since ANPR is used largely to identify vehicles which have not paid or have overstayed, it is possible to issues fines to those who have done so, however, it’s essential to understand the difference between private and local authority car parking fines.

At Total Parking Solutions, we are dedicated to excellent service with our bespoke car parking solutions, and part of that service is ensuring the knowledgeability of our clients so that they can make the best, informed decisions.

We post regularly about various elements of the parking industry and its intricacies so that you never need to be out of the know when it comes to your parking solutions.

To find out more about the services we provide and how we can help you to manage your carpark, please call us on 01536 680107, send us an email at [email protected] or fill out our enquiry form and we will get back to you.

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