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In the long term the new breed of cameras could also use facial recognition technology in the fight against crime, officers believe.
North Wales chief constable Richard Brunstrom, who heads the Association of Chief Police Officers Road Policing Enforcement Committee, said that it would be possible to simply reprogram existing digital roadside cameras.
Brunstrom told the House of Commons transport committee that the North Wales force was already testing the Automatic Licence Plate Recognition system in conjunction with Northamptonshire police.
Brunstrom said, "It will make a significant difference to our ability to fight crime.''
It will enable the police to identify cars which might be driven by disqualified drivers or other criminals wanted by the police, he added.
But he said the technology could do far more in the long run. "The technology offers almost unlimited potential.
"Automatic number plate readers can identify vehicles driven by people who are disqualified," he said.
"The next issue is facial recognition by taking photographs through windows. It is five to 10 years away, not 20.''
It could help to identify and catch serious criminals, as well as offending motorists.