Thames Valley said it has spent £1.94m to date on automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR), in response to a Freedom of Information request from Kable.
Three other forces, Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset and Gloucestershire, refused to release their spending on the technology, saying it would cost them too much to calculate this under Freedom of Information rules.
A spokesperson for Thames Valley confirmed a report published by the Oxford Mail in February, which said the force plans to add 34 fixed ANPR cameras over the next three years at a cost of £1.2m, or £35,000 for each camera. At that time it already had 47 fixed ANPR cameras, as well as 31 in road vehicles, 11 portable kits and one in a helicopter.
However, the force, which polices 2.1m people in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, told GC News that it would not answer further media questions on how much progress has been made on purchasing and installing the new fixed cameras since then.
On 28 August the Official Journal of the European Union records that Thames Valley awarded a framework contract worth up to £10m to Computer Recognition Systems, Optilan, Siemens, Cleartone Telecommunications and QRO Solutions for the supply of ANPR equipment and associated services. This covers fixed sites, mobile systems, data management interfaces and other linked services.
The ANPR expansion comes as the force attempts to cut its administrative costs while maintaining its numbers of full and support officers. It has cut £21m from its spending in the last three years, and is working on plans to reduce it by a further £19m over the next two years.
Earlier this month, home secretary Alan Johnson said that 40 police forces are now supplying the data from their cameras to the National ANPR Data Centre, which will allow national searches and analysis of the cameras’ findings, with the remaining forces following by the end of 2009. Responding to a parliamentary written question from his Conservative shadow Chris Grayling, Johnson said the centre “is currently under development and test”.
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