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We’re going from no show to no go on car tax dodgers, says ‘zero tolerant’ police commissioner

February 20, 2013

EYE SPY: Police commissioner Matthew Ellis says everyone captured on camera will be prosecuted

EYE SPY: Police commissioner Matthew Ellis says everyone captured on camera will be prosecuted

CAR tax and insurance dodgers on Staffordshire’s roads better watch out – your number really is up this time.

For the county’s highways and byways are being declared a ‘no go area’ for drivers who flout the law.

Police and crime commissioner Matthew Ellis is driving through a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ on county roads for drivers not prepared to join the millions of fee-paying motorists.

The first of 65 automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras went live in December as part of a joint scheme by Staffordshire Police and Staffordshire County Council.

The sophisticated technology identifies suspect vehicles associated with criminal activity ranging from terrorism to motorists driving without tax or insurance.

The information is fed back to a central control room, recorded and can be relayed to officers out on duty.
But until now many drivers caught by the CCTV cameras have been avoiding bans and fines because the police couldn’t afford to chase the offenders.

Now the new police and crime commissioner is putting “resources in place” to bring the road cheats to account.

“There are so many vehicles being caught by the automated cameras that the police decided months ago not to pursue the law breakers because of the resources needed,” said commissioner Ellis.

“I’m changing the current policy to one of zero tolerance – meaning everyone that is captured by camera will face the law,” he added.

The county’s first PCC, voted in at nationwide elections in November, said: “Why should we all pay our dues while others do not? And we’ll be talking to the Association of British Insurers to seek better rates for post codes in Staffordshire as a result of the action.”

The information from the police spy cameras is stored for five years in the National ANPR Data Centre to be analysed for intelligence and to be used as evidence.
The location of the devices are to remain a secret to avoid alerting criminals. There will be no warning signs and they will not be identified.

The cameras, which cost more than £500,000, are being installed on 57 main routes across the county. They will all be switched on by next month.

Staffordshire Police, which covered half the cost of the cameras, say the technology will act as a deterrent as well as helping track down offenders. The county council contributed £200,000 towards the initiative, which follows new government legislation establishing a right in law to collect the data.

County policing commander Chief Superintendent Jon Drake said the initiative would continue to push a message home to criminals that they are not welcome in the county.

“This technology, combined with an intelligence-led approach, will help us stop many criminals from targeting the county and allow us to track and catch those who do,” he said.

“Our latest figures show crime in the county is falling but we are committed to working with our partners to further cut crime.”

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