One of the most powerful arguments against the use of CCTV as a tool for fighting crime is its ineffectiveness. As we have argued before, while central government and local councils plough millions into expansive CCTV networks, the cameras they use are often switched off, not monitored properly or so poorly maintained as to render their images worthless.
Unsurprisingly, an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report issued on Friday indicates that Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems share CCTV's ineffectiveness. According to the report, the IPCC believes there are "are serious inconsistencies that are significantly impacting on the effectiveness" of the cameras and hampering their efforts to secure convictions.
In particular, the report makes reference to the failure of Cleveland Police, Durham Constabulary and North Yorkshire Police to arrest the murderer of a 17 year old girl despite his car having been detected on ANPR cameras on fifteen previous occasions during a four day period in late 2009. Despite being wanted for murder, arson, breach of the sex offenders register and theft, it took until the sixteenth detection of his vehicle for the Police to arrest him.
You can read the full report on the Police Professional website.