Chief constable in discussions about bringing back ‘ring of steel’

PC Matt Hollingsworth from Stotfold was commended by policing minister Mike Penning, who was guest o

PC Matt Hollingsworth from Stotfold was commended by policing minister Mike Penning, who was guest of honour, and Chief Constable Andy Bliss. - Credit: Archant

A decision on whether the county’s top cop will press the case to bring back an ANPR monitoring system to Royston will be made after Easter, Herts police have confirmed.

Herts County Council, Royston First and MP Sir Oliver Heald have backed the call to reinstate the Royston ‘ring of steel’ – which can track suspected criminals by monitoring their car number plate – after pleas from the public.

A spokesman for chief constable Andy Bliss said: “The chief constable is examining the issue. ANPR is just one of the many tactics that we could use to target criminals and its use can be increased if it is deemed to be an effective and justifiable tactic.”

The last of the cameras in the original ring were turned off in 2014 after the information commissioner deemed them unlawful, saying they were ‘excessive’ and ‘not justifiable’.

To turn the cameras back on, the chief constable would need to make a convincing case to the information commissioner’s team.

In a letter to ANPR campaigner Addo Addison, safer neighbourhood sgt for Royston Guy Westwood said: “The chief constable and police and crime commissioner are both well aware of the public opinion in general among the Royston population, and can both see the benefits it provides.

“They do however have to weigh up other issues, and consider the reasons the cameras had to be taken down in the first place, before any decisions are made.

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“We have just had a review of all our ANPR camera locations within the county, and our chief inspector, Julie Wheatley, is stating our case for more cameras in Royston again.”

At Royston’s annual town meeting on Thursday, Addo made a case to bring back the ANPR system along with Terry Oram, who had his house broken into last month.

At the meeting, Councillor Fiona Hill, who represents the town at County Hall, said: “The county council would dearly love to have ANPR back.”

Royston First manager Geraint Burnell also pledged his support, saying: “It was actually a group from out of town that first called for the cameras to be switched off. People don’t rob from their own town.

“They could be turned back on at the flick of a switch.”

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