You’re Being Watched: Police Using Number Plate Recognition To Catch Drivers Flouting Lockdown Rules

Lockdown rules in the UK are at an all-time high; the rules that are in place have never been as strict as they currently are, and for good reason. With the case numbers increasing weekly and deaths consistently high, it’s no wonder that the UK remains in a national lockdown. 

While the lockdown that is currently in place seems to be doing its job and has shown signs of beginning to work, there are people up and down the country continuing to flout the rules and break the lockdown. A lot of drivers assume that when it comes to breaking lockdown regulations that they won’t get caught, however, that isn’t necessarily the case. 

In order to ensure that lockdown rules are being kept to, there are a number of measures in place to catch people breaching the current rules of lockdown that are in place. One of the measures that the police are using to help catch drivers who are flouting lockdown rules is ANPR cameras – aka number plate recognition cameras. 

How is ANPR Technology Being Used to Prevent Drivers from Breaching Lockdown Regulations?

The police have said that they are using Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology – also known as ANPR technology – to ensure that drivers are only making essential journeys, rather than non-essential journeys. The police want to ensure that it’s only essential journeys that are being made and that drivers are not flouting lockdown rules and making journeys that are not deemed essential. 

The current rules that are in place in the UK regarding lockdown state that it is only allowable to leave your home for an essential reason, including going outside for your one hour’s allowable exercise, to go food shopping, or for a medical need. It is allowable to leave your home for exercise with your household or bubble or with one other person from outside of your household. 

The issue that has been noted by police is people opting to leave their homes and drive to places for exercise. This is not allowed; you are not allowed to drive from your home to a location for exercise, it is recommended that you exercise near to your home, rather than driving somewhere to exercise. If you have to drive somewhere to exercise, it should only be somewhere close by. Ideally, to somewhere that’s less than 15 minutes drive away from your home. 

Police are using ANPR cameras to check in on drivers, stopping them and asking them where they are going and why their journey is essential. 

How does ANPR Technology Work?

ANPR technology reads a vehicle’s number plate and provides the police with information about the vehicle, such as where it is registered to, for instance. It doesn’t matter whether you have chosen private number plates for your vehicles or you have kept the number plate that your car came with, the police are still able to use ANPR cameras to determine where your car is registered to and whether or not you are breaking lockdown regulations by travelling too far from your home in your car. 

Many police also have access to specialist apps that will give them instant information about any cars that they pass and where they are registered to. This allows them to determine how far a vehicle has travelled and whether the said vehicle may be breaking lockdown regulations that are in place. 

These increased measures have been put in place by police as drivers have been found to be breaching lockdown regulations up and down the country, making it less likely that the lockdown that is currently in place will be as effective as expected. 

Drivers are Being Warned to only Take Essential Journeys

The police up and down the country are warning drivers not to make careless and poorly throughout choices about non-essential journeys. Every day thousands of drivers are stopped by the police for breaching lockdown regulations, with many drivers receiving fines as a result of this. 

That’s why it is so essential that drivers only take essential journeys and don’t break lockdown regulations, because drivers are being closely monitored by police, with more and more drivers being stopped every day. 

The police have said that taking advantage of technology like ANPR cameras has allowed them to determine where certain vehicles come from, making it easier to spot a driver who may be breaching lockdown regulations. It is these drivers who the police choose to pull over and question, ensuring that any journeys being made are in fact of an essential nature and are not simply a day out or another excursion. 

What Kinds of Experiences Have the Police Had to Deal with Drivers Breaking Lockdown Rules?

There have been a lot of examples of people choosing to break lockdown regulations, with many people being spotted by ANPR cameras and subsequently stopped by the police as a result of their vehicle flagging up on the system as a vehicle that is not from the local area. 

A month ago, police in the north of the country used ANPR cameras and number plate recognition to prevent drivers from higher tiers from entering the area. This was prior to the national lockdown, of course. 

A week ago, a couple of friends were fined £200 for driving five miles away from their homes and meeting to take a walk together as part of their one hour’s exercise. The reason the two women were fined was that they both had drinks with them, and the police said that having food or drink to hand was classed as being on a picnic, which is not allowed under national lockdown regulations. However, since the incident occurred, the fines have been dropped. 

There were also instances of groups of friends driving hundreds of miles to beauty spots like the Peak District and Dartmoor National Park to go for walks and camp there. These groups were caught by police ANPR cameras and fined as a result of being caught. 

The fines being handed out by police tend to be for around £200, depending on whether it is the person’s first offense or not. The fines increase with each time a person is caught breaking lockdown regulations and can be as high as £10,000. 

It won’t be Living This Forever

It’s easy to feel trapped by the current restrictions that are in place, but it is important to remember that it will not be like this forever. Once the virus has come under control and vaccinations are widely rolled out, life in the UK should begin to quickly return to normal. It’s just a case of being patient until that time comes. 

It can be tempting to drive to somewhere that you’re not meant to visit but while lockdown is in place, it’s best to follow the rules and ensure that you are only driving when absolutely necessary. It won’t be like this forever, soon enough everything will open back up again and life will start to return to normal across the UK. 

In the meantime, the police are able to utilise smart technology to make catching drivers who are breaking the current lockdown regulations simpler, easier and more achievable. ANPR cameras have meant that catching drivers who are traveling further than they need to travel has never been easier, especially with the new purpose-built tracking apps that are now in place for the police to use to make vehicle tracking easier. 

There you have it, a guide to how the police are catching drivers who are flouting the current lockdown rules in the UK.