Commissioner welcomes use of ANPR to enforce Covid rules

Police vehicles lined up in a roadside layby

Every officer in the force has access to an ANPR app which allows them to access live information about vehicles they pass. - Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez has welcomed the police’s use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) in a bid to enforce Covid-19 regulations.

Shaun Sawyer, chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, has said ANPR cameras will be used across the region to make sure only essential journeys are being made.

As well as static cameras at the roadside in numerous locations across the region, every officer has access to an ANPR app on their devices which allows them to access live information about vehicles they pass.

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez wearing a dark blue blazer over a black top

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez - Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Commissioner Hernandez says the use of ANPR technology is both innovative and necessary during this third national lockdown.

She said: “Covid is spreading rapidly across the whole of the UK, not least because this new strain of the virus is far more contagious.

“We need to be doing everything we possibly can to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  The people of Devon and Cornwall have done a great job so far which is reflected in our case rates which are among the very lowest in the whole country.

“But we mustn’t become complacent.  I was saddened to hear about the reports of hundreds of Covid breaches over the weekend, many of which are understood to be related to second homes.

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“As such, I welcome the force’s use of ANPR to monitor vehicle movements and make sure the only journeys being made here are essential ones.  Using this technology helps us see where certain vehicles have come from and allows officers to further investigate their reasons for travel.

“We have all been through so much this past year and I know this latest lockdown will be very difficult and frustrating for many people.  But we must get this virus under control to stop the spread, save lives and protect our NHS.”

Speaking on Saturday, chief constable Shaun Sawyer called on everyone to 'regulate yourself' in a bid to bring infection rates down.

He said: "1,000 people a day are dying.  You know what to do, please do it.

"We are going to enforce and there is going to be an awful lot of activity and an awful lot of difficult conversations if this carries on.”