Number Plate Recognition cameras to triple

Summary

The number of special cameras designed to record number plates on vehicles in Belgium will number 3,000 rather than the 1,000 that were originally announced

Nowhere to hide

A new network of traffic cameras aimed at combating organised crime and terrorism will be far more extensive than originally planned. About 1,000 cameras are currently being installed along local motorways as part of a new Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system.

The measure was approved under the federal government’s anti-terrorism plan, adopted in 2015 in the wake of the Paris terror attacks that killed 130 people. Federal home affairs minister Jan Jambon today announced that far more cameras will be installed along motorways across the country than originally planned.

In response to a question from a federal lawmaker, he said that the ANPR system will eventually count up to 3,000 cameras. “Vehicles of wanted criminal on our roads will have nowhere to go,” Jambon added in a statement posted to his website.

Police and security to have access

The ANPR cameras are currently being installed at some 300 locations across the country. They use an identification system that is linked to the country’s national vehicle database, which allows it to automatically identify the license plates of the recorded vehicles.

When a wanted vehicle is identified by the cameras on local roads, an alert is sent to the relevant police zone or federal investigators. Both the federal police and national security will be able to access the ANPR camera information.

Municipal police, the provinces, the regions, port authorities and airport operators, who can also request for ANPR cameras to be put up at a particular location, can also access the data but only after it’s been rendered anonymous.

The price tag of the network has been estimated at €36.5 million, with a recurring annual cost of €2.5 million for upkeep and maintenance.