Author Topic: CCR magazine - Correspondence on number-plate recognition notices revealed  (Read 3674 times)

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Offline Web Admin

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Correspondence on number-plate recognition notices revealed

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A significant set of correspondence between the Metropolitan Police’s ANPR Operations section and private enforcement companies was revealed last week, after a long-running set of Freedom of Information requests.

As the documents were made public, it became clear that the police have been co-operating over a long period with EAs, enforcing council tax and other debts, by stopping vehicles in roadblocks.

Although the practice has now been suspended (see page 26, CCR-PS, July edition) by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the correspondence so far released shows that at least one enforcement company, Newlyn, offered to make a 15% “donation” to police,

Another piece of correspondence turns to co-operation between EAs and their ANPR equipped vehicles, with at least one instance where the enforcement company offers it’s service to the police.

In the correspondence, Whyte & Co, make an offer to the police: “Are there any VRMs you would like added to the ANPR systems to assist your staff on the day, if so can you e-mail a list preferably in Excel format to before midday on the 6 Aug (2013) so we can get it loaded to the vans."

Paul Whyte, a partner at Whyte & Co, told CCR-PS: “In respect of the request for VRM's - it is not usual procedure to offer such a facility. In this instance we offered to utilise a valued ANPR facility for police use by way of VRM only (not the police database as reported by some). This offer was made after a conversation whereby a police officer had commented on a number of highly sought after cars for serious crimes and the offer was made in the spirit of partnership but knowing it was very likely to be refused. This is the one and only occasion on which such an offer was made and it was not taken up.”

In an e-mail dated 15 July 2013, a police officer responds to an offer of assistance, so: “OK many thanks for this. The team that is going down to Thornton Heath Ponds really need to be mindful of not interrupting/disturbing the businesses down there. On the last CUBO (operational name for police roadblocks) we had a number of complaints from them and I think this was partly down to the bailiffs taking an unreasonable amount of time dealing with motorists. As discussed I know you are in agreement that they are dealt with efficiently so not as to either clog the site up or make the police officers jobs harder down there.

We contacted Newlyn and Whyte & Co, to ask them for their views.

Paul Whyte added: “Third party agencies including VOSA, immigration and local authorities have been working with the police on such operations for a number of years now.

“They attend upon invitation and are in attendance as guests - it has been mooted such operations are orchestrated by the enforcement agent and clearly this is not the case.

“I am aware of the current suspension pending a review of police operating proceedings and therefore we are unable to comment on police matters.

“I am also aware of the “chatter” currently in progress on some (consumer advice) websites which disappointingly, although not surprisingly, argues an end to such joint operations.

“These operations proceed regardless of our attendance and as such there is no cost to the taxpayer when we do attend. As all vehicles stopped by the police are first subject to their own enquires a number of arrests have been made over the last twelve months in respect of serious offences (drugs/firearms), this before any enquiry can be made in respect of our own enforcement matters.

“There is no doubt that the synergy of these operations, no matter how distasteful to some, produce results that actually bring added value to the taxpayer.

“In the matter of any "donation" I can confirm Whyte & Co have never offered one, nor have we ever been asked to make one, in respect of these operations.”

David Smith of Newlyn, told CCR-PS: “MPS state that operations such as CUBO offer a demonstrable and practical deterrent to non-compliant motorists. These exercises are supported by our clients, the local authority, and indeed we are actively encouraged to participate whenever possible because of the positive results that are achieved both in terms of publicity and the enforcement process.

“These operations, which have been running for several years now, were devised to involve task forces from multiple agencies to combat the illegal activities of some drivers. The basis of our involvement in the operation is to deal with persistent evaders and motorists who fail to pay their outstanding PCN’s.

“To the best of my knowledge we have never collected any council tax arrears on these operations only PCN's. As citied elsewhere in this story these initiatives by the police and government agencies have resulted in arrests for firearm and drug offences as well as identifying drivers with no road fund licence or insurance; including illegally using their cars as unlicensed mini cabs. These roadside exercises provide a benefit to the community as a whole by removing dangerous drivers and their vehicles from the roads. In addition to the above benefits we are able to recover outstanding Penalty Charge Notices that have gone unpaid despite numerous requests prior to the roadside operations.

“These operations are run in addition to the normal duties of the police in a much smaller way similar to crowd control at football matches, sporting events and music concerts, as such they increase the demand on the budgets of local forces. With this in mind Newlyn Plc offered to make a contribution of 15% to the cost of each operation undertaken. The suggestion of a contribution was made with the sole aim of supporting this valuable function as carried out by the police and other government body’s and not as is intimated in the story as a payment of any other kind.

“Newlyn believe that without the support of all of the organisations involved, the running of these campaigns would cease due to lack of funding. Something that the anti-enforcement groups would welcome and which we believe is demonstrated by the “volume” of activity already seen on these types of forums following the release of the information obtained as part of the FOI request.

“Newlyn denies there is any suggestion of wrong doing on its part as the company is not the sole beneficiary of the operation nor does it control the number of cars processed on each exercise, this number varies on each occasion; we are offering a service to our clients. the local authority for which we have been appointed.”

Offline The Bald Eagle

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One has to wonder whether Paul Whyte and David Smith consulted with their lawyers before making those statements. <_>

And remember good people, this is in relation to Croydon CUBO operations only. Also remember that it wasn't only Whyte & Co and Newlyns bailiff firms involved in CUBO operations elsewhere in the capital.

This could easily be only one worm out of a whole can full.

Offline DastardlyDick

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Hmmm, I can't help thinking that errors are starting to creep in to this (unless they do thngs differently in Croydon).
Op. Cubo is about taking uninsured/unlicensed drivers off the road using ANPR equipped Traffic cars - no need for Bailiffs, is fully funded from existing budgets, and is organised centrally.
This looks more like Op. Reclaim which is done on a Borough by Borough basis and the Borough has to find the money.