In 2006 the UK was one of the first countries in Europe to initiate a scheme to monitor the journey of every single car in the UK. The scheme, a brainchild of the Metropolitan Police Force and Mi5, set about converting all CCTV traffic cameras across the length and breadth of the country to record not just relative speeds and congestion but also the number plates of each and every vehicle. This information would then be fed back to a central database that would record the sighting for further statistical analysis and automatically check that the vehicle was registered, road-worthy, insured and taxed.
Twelve months in and the Police force are finding that the information collected has been invaluable in their crackdown on organised cloning of number plates.
By being able to analyse not just what time and what stretch of road a car was sighted on, but also the vehicles surrounding that car, Police chiefs are finding that they can identify entire gangs of car thieves by association.
When the scheme was first proposed the car registration data was to be kept for upto two years before being destroyed. In light of recent findings, the UK Police force are asking that this be extended to five years in order that they may capture more car criminals.
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