From an email Ry sent me…
Well, I suppose they will catch a few crooks that were candidates for Darwin Awards anyway. All the surveillance cameras in the UK and their automatic number recognition software came in handy the other day. They used it to track down and arrest the people that killed a cop on Friday. Great! And they publicized it–bad. One of the most critical things in intelligence gathering is protecting your sources from discovery. Just how difficult will it be to defeat the system? How much effort is it to stop and smear some mud on the plates? Or put a piece of tape over some of the letters? Or put a paper with a different number over the top of your plates? Anyway, here is the story where they are crowing about how great and wonderful it is:
A pioneering number plate recognition system in Bradford played a vital role in the arrests of six suspects after the killing of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky.
A network of CCTV cameras linked to a database of registration numbers automatically alerts officers to a vehicle’s route across the city.
Within minutes of Friday’s shootings, police were using the system to track the suspected getaway car.
The first arrests were made in London early the following morning.
At its launch in May, Ch Supt Geoff Dodd of West Yorkshire Police, said: “I believe that this is the best investigative tool we have had since the introduction of DNA analysis.
“DNA broke new ground for the police service and this is another revolutionary tool in detecting crime.”
“”The importance of this system in the fight against crime cannot be underestimated.”
“Denying criminals use of the roads denies access to the primary means of transport for a whole raft of criminal activity.”
“It includes the transportation of drugs, stolen property and articles for use in crime, as well as transport for offenders to and from the scenes of crimes such as robberies and burglaries.”
“The bottom line is that if a stolen vehicle comes into or out of Bradford city centre we will know about it.”
A friend of mine once told me that the personalities of cops and crooks were very similar. The biggest difference was their IQ. The cops have the advantage at something like 105 to 95. They may be smarter than the crooks on the average but crowing about their new toy neutralized the advantage.
On the flip side they can still use it to track innocent people and sell the information on the black market to stalkers, politicians wanting dirt on their opponents, and for industrial espionage. And just think how useful it would have been to the East Germans 30 years ago.