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Reporter joins police and Havering council officers on ANPR operation tackling uninsured drivers in Gallows Corner

PUBLISHED: 12:17 13 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:17 13 September 2019

Police officers checking vans during an ANPR operation in Gallows Corner on Thursday, September 12. There is no suggestion that the driver pictured was doing anything wrong. Picture: April Roach

Police officers checking vans during an ANPR operation in Gallows Corner on Thursday, September 12. There is no suggestion that the driver pictured was doing anything wrong. Picture: April Roach

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Reporter April Roach joined police officers and the borough's enforcement teams on a day of action targeting criminals and unlicensed drivers in Gallows Corner.

Police officers checking vans during an ANPR operation in Gallows Corner on Thursday, September 12. Picture: April RoachPolice officers checking vans during an ANPR operation in Gallows Corner on Thursday, September 12. Picture: April Roach

Police sergeant Jamie Wright led a day of action on Thursday, September 12 that used Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to target criminals.

The ANPR system takes note of every licence plate in view of the cameras. These images are then cross-referenced to police records.

If the vehicle is uninsured or the driver known to the police for crimes such as drug use or burglary, this will be flagged up on the system and they will stopped by officers.

For the day of action on Thursday, police parked the ANPR car near the Gallows Corner roundabout on the A12.

Police officers controlling the traffic while completing an ANPR operation on Thursday, September 12. Picture: April RoachPolice officers controlling the traffic while completing an ANPR operation on Thursday, September 12. Picture: April Roach

From not having insurance to detecting if the vehicle has been used in a recent burglary - the ANPR technology is set to pick up on a range of crimes.

In addition to the van, police officers were stationed further along the A12 to conduct random spot checks on cars and vans.

Sgt Wright explained that there has been a "massive increase" in burglaries in the past few months, with many of them occurring in the Gallows Corner area.

By carrying out operations such as these, the officers hope to provide a police presence in the area to serve as a deterrent as well as catch criminals.

Sometimes the ANPR technology will flag up cars that have been caught on CCTV as having been used in a burglary or another previous crime.

"We get low risk, medium risk and high risk stops," said Sgt Wright.

"We also have two pursuit vehicles on site should someone fail to stop."

The operation was a major group effort with the borough's police teams being joined by traffic control officers, Environment Agency (EA) officers, Trading Standards officers and members of the borough's enforcement team.

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It was great to see the different departments work together to share their expertise in offering advice to the drivers.

A representative from Trading Standards explained that the ANPR operations "detect, disrupt and displace crime from the borough".

They record details of drivers who are found to not have the correct insurance or be operating in an illegal manner and then add this information to the national database.

This means that while a driver or scrap metal trader may not be wanted for anything in Havering, the data could alert officials in Newham or Redbridge who may be looking for the same person or car.

On two occasions the ANPR camera flagged up licence plates that were linked to criminal activity, but when the drivers were questioned by the police they revealed that they had recently only bought the car.

This provided officers with an opportunity to update their data.

Members of the Environment Agency take part in the ANPR operations to ensure drivers are making the necessary safety checks for waste they might be transporting.

"If they don't have it tested then it saves them a lot of money," said an EA official.

"Sometimes they know it is not safe but they just want to get rid of it."

Police community support officer Natalie Parrott had the job of recording the details of the drivers and vehicles that were stopped for the police records.

In total 36 stops were made by the police from 11am to 2.30pm.

One driver was stopped for not having the correct insurance for his business.

Another driver was stopped for not carrying a licence for collecting scrap metal and for three of his tyres not being up to the correct safety standards.

Council officers also gave words of advice to people who were driving with inappropriate licence plates, not using a seat belt properly and other issues around trading standards and the importance of making sure that the drivers have the correct insurance for their business.

For more information about Trading Standards issues call 0345 404 0506.

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