New project management toolsets developed with the ESRC-funded Transformation Project helped Warwickshire Police launch new Automatic Number Plate Recognition schemes on time and budget – targeting vehicle-based criminality and solving a string of serious crimes.


  • The toolsets enabled Warwickshire Police to identify problem areas and measures to address them
  • The new ANPR schemes were successfully implemented in 2010 on time and within budget
  • Between 2010 and 2012, the Coventry Airport ANPR scheme identified 646,172 vehicles of interest to police, while the Nuneaton ANPR scheme identified a further 423,285 vehicles.
  • The schemes have provided vital evidence for high profile cases including murder, rape, wounding, major fraud, theft and armed robberies. They have also led to the recovery of a police vehicle stolen from Northampton, the identification of an organised crime group engaged in the theft of caravans across the Midlands and the successful prosecution of an organised crime group involved in insurance fraud.

"The process actually allowed us to understand what the problem was. That is a massive step towards solving the problem, and quite honestly, I doubt we would have achieved that if we had been left to our own devices." (Chris Alexander, ANPR Manager, Warwickshire Police)

About the research

In 2009, Warwickshire Police planned two major projects to introduce two new Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) schemes. By using ANPR cameras which reads vehicle registration marks and compares these to a database of records technology, the police force could target criminals using the roads, gather intelligence and prosecute offenders.

However, the ANPR project faced serious obstacles in terms of time, lack of funding and project expertise. The technology was not initially developed for police use, and by the time national standards had been developed for rollout to police forces, some forces - including Warwickshire - had evolved ANPR in their own direction. This led to inconsistencies in both procurement and operation. In addition, the organisation had no standard way of managing projects in general.

Working closely with the ESRC-funded Transformation project team led by Dr Michael Butler at Aston Business School and a cluster of other project partners, Warwickshire Police was able to overcome the range of problems threatening the ANPR project. The collaboration led to the development of two easy-to-use project management toolsets, designed to change management practices in any type of organisation:

  • The Receptivity for Change Toolset, which identifies areas within the organisation that are working well or can be improved
  • The Actor Analysis Toolset, which examines social networks and relationships.