A new scheme has started to extend the reach of an important camera crime fighting tool to help protect an isolated rural community.
Additional ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) functionality is being deployed this week for the first time in WEARDALE thanks to a £13,000 grant from County Councillor Anita SAVORY. The money has bought the equipment and paid for installation fees with match funding from Durham Police to cover maintenance, monitoring and operational costs.
The cameras read and record registration numbers allowing officers to help trace stolen vehicles and track locations of those used by known criminals. The new ANPR system is linked to other units deployed across the Durham Force area and also has linkage to the national ANPR systems across England and Wales.
“Whilst Durham Police has had great results with ANPR across the County and Darlington there was a gap in the coverage across WEARDALE where isolated roads link into Cumbria and south Northumbria” said Neighbourhood Inspector Kevin Tuck.
“When I explained the situation to Councillor SAVORY she was enthusiastic to help deliver this important project. We believe this will help keep residents safer and give us some great additionality in the fight against rural crime across the 200 square miles of the dale.”
Monitoring takes place in the police central control room at DURHAM and work is undertaken by a dedicated ANPR team. Readings from the cameras can also be used to help trace vulnerable and missing people in vehicles but they are not speed cameras and cannot be used to issue speeding tickets or address traffic management issues.
Councillor SAVORY added, “The neighbourhood policing team based at STANHOPE is a key part of police visibility and reassurance in WEARDALE but they have the challenge of covering a big isolated area. Because we are so rural there is less natural surveillance against those wanting to cause harm and commit crime in the countryside. I’m a magistrate and understand the challenges of modern policing so was very happy to support the scheme.
“Whilst the units are in locations chosen to maximise the highway infrastructure they are redeployable and can be moved to new positions within the 4G mobile network coverage”, added Inspector Tuck.
“Councillor SAVORY is only the second county councillor to use her Neighbourhood Budget in this way following a similar successful scheme in TEESDALE four years ago supported by Councillor James RAWLINSON. I’m having conversations with other neighbourhood Inspectors to see if this concept could be replicated in other parts of the Force linked to local councillors.
Administration and approval for the project was conducted by WEARDALE Area Action Partnership.