How does Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) work?

With the ever increasing numbers of vehicles using the roads in this country, and the corresponding congestion associated with the issue, more enforcement is becoming necessary both in the ‘on street’ (public highways and local authority car parks) and ‘off street’ (unregulated private car parks) environments.

In the off street environment, the main concerns of the private Landlord/Landowner are to:

a)  Protect his property from unwanted trespass.

b)  Ensure that in protecting his property, legitimate users of his facilities are able to park unhindered in his private car park.

There are a number of methods by which this can be enforced, but the newest of these is Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology (ANPR). As with all methods of enforcement of unregulated private land, charges enforced by ANPR are subject to the law of Contract. They are also self regulated through the British Parking Association’s (BPA) Code of Practice for parking enforcement on private land and unregulated private car parks, and voluntary membership to the BPA’s Approved Operator Scheme.

 The principle is as follows:

a)   CCTV style cameras are placed at the entrance and exit to a car park.

b)   Timed photographs are taken of the vehicle itself entering and leaving the car park, and also close ups of the vehicle’s number plate.

c)   The duration of the stay of the vehicle is calculated from the times registered on the two sets of photographs.

d)    If a vehicle has exceeded the duration of stay either mentioned on the parking ticket or on car park signage (eg. ‘Maximum 2 hour stay for customers only’), then the driver of the vehicle will be required to pay an excess parking charge (which will also be mentioned in the car park’s signage).  

e)    If a driver contravenes any of the terms and conditions laid out in the signage, they should be aware that they will not receive a ticket at the car park site. Using the vehicle’s registration number, the operator will access the DVLA’s Vehicle Keepers’ details database (with the Reasonable Cause of pursuing a broken contract for parking on private land) and send a charge certificate to the keeper of the vehicle.

As with all methods of enforcement on private land, proper enforcement is dependant on clear signage that is visible from all points of the car park. The BPA’s Code of Practice 2012 contains recommendations for the size, placement and information for private car park signage, including the fact that the car park is monitored by ANPR technology and that DVLA with be contacted to obtain keeper details in the event of a parking contravention occurring.

As with all new technology, there are issues associated with its use:

a)    Repeat users of a car park inside a 24 hour period sometimes find that their first entry is paired with their last exit, resulting in an ‘overstay’. Operators are becoming aware of this and should now be checking all ANPR transactions to ensure that this does not occur.

b)    Some ‘drive in/drive out’ motorists that have activated the system receive a charge certificate even though they have not parked or taken a ticket. Reputable operators tend not to uphold charge certificates issued in this manner (unless advised differently by the Landowner/Landlord), but operators should also now be factoring in a small ‘grace period’ to allow a driver time either to find a parking space (and to leave if there is not one) or make a decision whether the tariff is appropriate for their use or not. This ‘grace period is however at the discretion of the Landlord/Landowner and will also vary in duration, dependant on the size/layout/circumstances of the car park.

For further information please view the information sheet below

Information Sheet - ANPR

Contact British Parking Association

British Parking Association T: 01444 447 300
Stuart House, 41-43 Perrymount Road F: 01444 454 105
Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 3BN E: info@britishparking.co.uk