Police target criminals with car-number-plate checks in St Albans

PUBLISHED: 18:50 11 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 06 May 2010

AN abnormally-high police presence in St Albans city centre recently has been due to a covert operation aimed at catching criminals by spotting drivers without road tax and insurance. The Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) operation – dubbed Operat

AN abnormally-high police presence in St Albans city centre recently has been due to a covert operation aimed at catching criminals by spotting drivers without road tax and insurance.

The Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) operation - dubbed Operation Bolero - has been running since mid-February in partnership with the district council.

Readers have contacted the Herts Advertiser reporting numerous police cars frequently stopping vehicles along London Road and by the War Memorial in the city centre.

Chief Inspector Richard Hann said: "The aim of operation Bolero is to reduce crime and its impact on our local communities in St Albans. It is about looking at the bigger picture and identifying people who do not pay car insurance or road tax as sometimes these individuals get involved in criminal activities or anti-social behaviour. We have been running the operation to help people be - and feel - safer."

He continued: "Our priority is to keep residents, workers and visitors to the city safer by taking robust action using technology available to us and we hope it increases feelings of reassurance and reduces already low levels of crime."

Pc Paul Warner said Operation Bolero has produced great results with arrests and vehicle seizures being made by using the ANPR cameras and CCTV cameras, in line with Home Office guidance and local protocols agreed by the council.

He added: "The increased visible presence is generating a lot of interest from law abiding citizens of St Albans who come and talk to us, initially thinking that something bad must have happened. They go away feeling far safer, reassured and fully supportive of what we are doing."

A police spokesperson said the ANPR system had the following benefits:

1. ANPR is a crime reduction and key investigative tool -- it targets criminals who use vehicles.

2. Its aim is to deny criminals the ability to move freely around the county to commit crimes.

3. ANPR helps to bring criminals to justice for crimes they have committed.

4. During an active ANPR operation criminals who travel are stopped and dealt with by police.

5. ANPR has led to the arrest of burglars, robbers and drug dealers, among others.

6. ANPR targets criminals, not innocent law-abiding motorists.

7. ANPR not only reduces crime but can be used to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on the roads.

8. Drivers without insurance are more likely to have been involved in other crimes.

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