ANPR cameras prove crucial for catching criminals coming through Saddleworth

THEY might be hidden from sight in secret locations but Saddleworth’s two ANPR cameras are standing out from the crowd to help catch criminals, according to a top police officer.

Sergeant Trevor Eaton, who is responsible for ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) and CCTV cameras across Greater Manchester, praised the success of the scheme locally.

Two ANPR cameras were installed in Saddleworth in August 2015 thanks to funding from the Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership.

Sgt Eaton visited their meeting in January to explain how invaluable the equipment has been in helping both local and national police.

He revealed the cameras have helped solve high level crimes including a spate of burglaries in 2017 involving offenders travelling in from West Yorkshire.

In 2018 the cameras were crucial in helping police bust a drugs group who were smuggling £2million of heroin.

And recently the suspects involved in kidnapping a lorry with £1.3million worth of laptops were caught as the cameras picked up their vehicles following the lorry.

Sgt Eaton said: “Saddleworth was one of the first places in Greater Manchester to install these cameras. You were pioneers and now a number of others have followed suit.

“The average monthly read is 218,000 vehicles coming through Saddleworth, which is quite a significant traffic flow.

“Many criminals are using the area as a route through to avoid motorways and main routes as they don’t realise the cameras are here.

“It is great to know these cameras are in the community and I personally feel it has reduced the crime here. I would put one on every road if I could!”

Sgt Eaton explained the cameras capture every registration plate that goes past, and alerts are raised if a plate matches one flagged up in the local or national police database.

They can also search back over 12 months of data to look for specific registration plates when investigating a crime.

But the cameras are moved from time to time to new locations in the area to vary the coverage and also to protect residents’ privacy.

Delighted with the update, Cllr Neil Allsopp: “These cameras are invaluable and I do not understand why we do not have more in the community.”

Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership has ringfenced funding for two more CCTV cameras with ANPR capability. They are currently liaising with Oldham Council and GMP to install the cameras in the community.

Cllr Jamie Curley said: “These cameras have already proved their worth in crime detection and evidence gathering to secure convictions.

“The addition of these new ones will undoubtedly be beneficial as well as providing further reassurance for the community.

“I’m pleased we have been able to allocate this money and will be pushing to have the cameras installed as soon as we can.”

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