Police step up cloned cars battle

  • Automatic numberplate recognition to be used
  • 50 million numberplates read each day
  • Council has its vehicles' identities stolen
Words By Jim Holder

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Automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) technology is to be used to stop criminals cloning cars.

Cloned vehicles are created by criminals who copy the numberplate of a legitimate vehicle onto a similar model and then use it to avoid parking and congestion charges, as well as for more serious crimes.

Now the police are developing new software that will recognise when suspected cloned vehicles pass ANPR cameras located on the roadside and in most fuel stations.

The information gathered will be analysed by a centralised system, which will then identify if two cars with the same numberplate are travelling at the same time.

Currently, up to 50 million numberplates are identified by ANPR cameras every day.

The news follows the revelation that Erewash Borough Council, near Nottingham, suspects that many of its cars have been cloned after criminals obtained information about them via the Freedom of Information Act.

Phillip Wright, director of the council's neighbourhood services, said: 'Since the Freedom of Information Act became law, we have had several requests for details of our vehicle fleet.

'The information we have supplied has always been as vague as we could make it. However, there have been various incidents that have led us to believe our fleet information has been used to create cloned vehicles.'