Sheppey crossing cameras will monitor every vehicle in bid to catch criminals
EVERY car, van, motorcycle or lorry driving on or off the Isle of Sheppey will be observed by cameras and checked against a national database.
Police have borrowed £73,000 from Swale Council to place an order for an automatic numberplate recognition system (ANPR), which will be installed on both the Sheppey Crossing and the Kingsferry Bridge by the middle of April.
The system alerts police every time someone breaking the law, or suspected of breaking the law, passes a camera.
The results can be filtered to different levels, so that everyone from road tax and MOT evaders could be flagged up. It does not work as a speed camera.
Former island police chief Inspector Steve Griffiths said: "I have a really firm belief that it will further drive down crime on the island. We all know there is only one way on and one way off."
Mr Griffiths said that filters would be set so that only known offenders, or those wanted for serious offences, would be flagged up, and normal drivers left alone.
He added: "This is not Big Brother, this is not CCTV."
"The likes of the Lloyds Bank robbery a few months ago would have come across in a stolen vehicle. I think we would have had a very good chance of intercepting that vehicle."
Mr Griffiths said he also wanted a "strike team" based on the island in the future to catch drivers who trigger an alert.
The system was introduced to the county in 2001 and there are more than 200 ANPR cameras in Kent, including a pair monitoring the Dartford Crossing.
In 2010, Kent Police's ANPR team removed 320 illegal vehicles from the road.
Mr Griffiths said the cameras will be well advertised and not operating stealthily.
He added: "I would rather reduce crime than detect it."
Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson said he was fully behind the introduction of the cameras.
Mr Henderson said: "I have got no problem with it whatsoever. Anything they can use to cut down on crime, I support it 100 per cent.
"I am not one of those people who is anti-CCTV.
"I would be very concerned if it was some sort of back-door way of imposing speeding fines, but if they are genuinely trying to keep track of criminals then I have no problem with it."