back to article Royston's ANPR surveillo-plan goes to ICO

Three civil liberties groups have complained to the information commissioner about police plans to install ANPR cameras around Royston in Hertfordshire, claiming they are unlawful. No CCTV, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch say that they fear the project might foreshadow similar work across the country. "The use of …

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Good ANPR Facing Scrutiny

Even if ANPR had been passed by a statutory instrument it would hardly be democratic. Statutory instruments don't get voted on or even often face scrutiny in Parliament.

The reason ANPR is used to target thousands of criminals is that the prison system doesn't rehabilitate them & they are often let out early. Would the money spent on ANPR be bet used on prisons?

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Shocking costs

"each camera cost £7,000, with the columns for each site costing from £7,500" that's a medium resolution camera with infra -red capability, and a pole. About £200 worth then; somebody is clearly making a lot of money out of this.

It would be interesting to enquire if any of the supplier company's employees are former police officers.

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Not adding up.

If you can get a camera Pole bought and installed for £200, then I think Herts police will happily award you a contract to do it.

£7500 seems about right to me, as you have to pay for the pole to be transported, stuck into the ground, connected to the mains and connected to a data network. You then have to test that it all works properly. I suspect that the cost of the Pole also might be more that £200 as well.

And remember that will involve three different organisations to put the Pole up, and another three to commission it.

I can't see BT, National Grid, and Herts Highways being happy about a contractor rocking up tapping their networks and then disappearing without some level of quality control and governance.

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That's extra

"He also said that each camera cost £7,000, with the columns for each site costing from £7,500" ... no mention of install costs there forsooth, the separation into the components indicates they are additional, as does my experience of managing their installs.

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Yeah, right...

"We use ANPR to target criminals and unsafe drivers..."

No, ANPR cannot target unsafe drivers unless they are already known to you. They don't measure speed, they don't check if a driver has a licence, they can only tell if the car is taxed, MOTed and insured by someone.

You only have to drive down the A12 between the M11/A406 and A11 junctions to see what good the dumb cameras on boxes do. Everyone knows where the speed (sorry, safety) cameras are, and everyone drops their speed by 5 to 10mph as they approach each one. No big deal, everyone does that, but what the camera can't see is what happens in between, namely the idiots who use the lanes as a mobile chicane/slalom and accelerate down the inside of people as soon as they clear a camera like a rolling start motorsport event!

I keep meaning to blu-tac my mobile to the windscreen in video mode, it's only a short drive, and you're guaranteed at least one idiot (normally more though).

If I was a local traffic cop, with a quota and an unmarked car, I would spend my entire life on that stretch of road... Unfortunately we don't have many real traffic cops any more, we just have yellow cash machines, whoops, sorry, safety cameras.

So you can't target unsafe drivers with an ANPR camera, you can only target unsafe drivers you know, and you won't get to know them unless you have some real traffic cops about - or the idiots wrap themselves round something, or someone, else.

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FAIL

Utter Cobblers

Two hits on one number plate on cameras 500 yards apart timed at 10 seconds...

Speeding ticket.

DUH

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Unhappy

Don't worry, they've got you covered!

They will most likely put up more of those bloody annoying average speed zone cameras, like they have along the A127 between Rayleigh and Southend-On-Sea. You're going along at 65-70 mph, then it drops you down to 50, then down to 40 and finally to 30, all the time the average cameras are tracking you at every quarter-mile over a 10 mile stretch to make sure you behave. No speeding up between cameras with these nasty sods!

You watch, this is all leading up to per-mile charging. Why tag cars when they have an clear identifier slap-bang on the front?! Stick cameras up all over the shop and then farm the business off to private companies to maintain. With any luck, if that happens, it will end up like Railtrack, a complete fricking fiasco but not before blowing billions of tax-payers spondoolics on the whole cock-up of course!

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Big Brother

It's not just ANPR on the M60 - Manchester Ring

"Large cities including central London, Birmingham and Manchester already have ANPR 'rings of steel' which record the numberplates and images of all vehicles entering and leaving a zone. There were 4,225 such cameras throughout England and Wales connected to the National ANPR Database in early January, according to figures published through Parliament."

Alongside that camera system, there is the facial recognition camera system, too... And, BTW, the M62 is included as the M60 and M62 are one and the same piece of road J12 to J18.

No statement of intent, governance, mission can be found for these systems, though it's not hard to figure out why ANPR and Facial Recognition systems, and any relational conclusions that could be drawn, are of such interest to the authorities.

It should be concerning that one of the "bastions of democracy" provides no means to interrogate / request information under FOI as these systems have never been sanctioned by way of Act of Parliament or local statute or any other "instrument of law"...

Data Protection and Privacy and the Rights of the Individual no longer seem to apply in the UK, so everyone that can get behind and support the 'No Campaign' should do so, IMHO, as it seem to me that not to do so sanctions the insult and dilutes our freedoms - They would be the same freedoms we, the people of the UK, are asked to fight for in any number of overseas locations, each an every day.

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FAIL

Royston - Crime Capital of the whole of britian

Piper said: "We use ANPR to target criminals and unsafe drivers, not law-abiding motorists, and have caught thousands of burglars, robbers, uninsured drivers, drug dealers and other serious criminals."

I hadn't realised that Royston (pop: ~17000) was such a hot bed of crimal activity. In fact given this new information, maybe we should just build a big wall around the whole place to protect the rest of us.

Fail: for using National Statistics to justify ANPR in a small, statistically safer than average town (especially regarding motoring offences).

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However,

It is where some major national and regional routes cross, A10 & A505 for a start.

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FAIL

@CaptainHook

I think the quote refers to the whole of Hertfordshire (pop: ~ 1,000,000 ), not just Royston.

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Success rate of 95% at minimum

How do they measure this? Do they mean that they have issued fines to 95% of the motorists passing an ANPR camera for whatever infringement they can think up.

As for ANPR as such, I think there is an argument that can be made for it but I can't see one for storing the images unless as evidence of genuine wrong doing.

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FAIL

Years too late

Royston must be just about the only place in Herts that doesn't have ANPR.

It's been in use in the county for seven years.

So I don't think they have much chance of blocking it.

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WTF?

Trade-offs

There's a point to a ring of steel around big cities.. because they are the most likely places for terrorists to try to attack. If you live in central London, then it's just one of the trade-offs you might want to make for your safety.

But Royston is a zero of a town, nestling in the armpit of the A505 and providing an unfortunate impediment to anyone trying to drive up the A10. The only way a terrorist would blow it up is if they were stuck in a traffic jam.

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funded by local businesses

says it all

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Unhappy

Interesting

I support the use of ANPR cameras and actually wish the police were out using them more often instead of speed traps.

What bothers me though is that they want to store any of the information at all. Even 72 hours is ridiculous, we are basically all being assumed to be in an area to commit a crime and must therefore be monitored at all times. This does not sit well with me, how long before they decide to profile my movements? Not that I have anything to hide, but I still shouldn't have to worry about THE POLICE tracking me. It's bad enough worrying about someone else following me (to steal my car or something) ...

Why is it that when there's something important that needs to be protested about, no-one can be bothered but when there's something totally lame like climate change or dwindling daffodil numbers, there's suddenly a load of noise being made?

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WTF?

ANPR is effective

Unfortunately the motor vehicle is a common factor in many serious crimes (as well as the source of much minor crime) so the ability to track a vehicle from the scene of a crime to another location is a useful tool for the police. Sometimes the significance of a particular vehicle will not be realised until many days after the crime occurred so I can see the value of retaining the ANPR data to allow it to be examined in the event of a serious incident.

As for the minor crimes, you only have to look at the statistics on uninsured drivers and the cost to law abiding motorists when they lose an insurance excess or no-claims bonus to realise that ANPR is the only economic way to detect and convict these criminals.

If we give up ANPR then the police will either have to accept a reduced capability in crime detection or employ more resources to make up the difference (which in the current economic climate is not going to happen).

For those obsessed with travelling in secret, I suggest using cash only on public transport whilst wearing a bag over your head.

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FAIL

And yet...

"Unfortunately the motor vehicle is a common factor in many serious crimes (as well as the source of much minor crime) so the ability to track a vehicle from the scene of a crime to another location is a useful tool for the police. Sometimes the significance of a particular vehicle will not be realised until many days after the crime occurred so I can see the value of retaining the ANPR data to allow it to be examined in the event of a serious incident."

>> And yet, it's still the case that incidents occur so the 'data retention advantage' is only ever after the (f)act and of little use if the vehicle, as is often the case, was stolen...

"As for the minor crimes, you only have to look at the statistics on uninsured drivers and the cost to law abiding motorists when they lose an insurance excess or no-claims bonus to realise that ANPR is the only economic way to detect and convict these criminals."

>> And yet, you don't hear of ANPR being 'talked up' on the basis of it has actually stopped such offenses from being committed and insurance getting cheaper...

"If we give up ANPR then the police will either have to accept a reduced capability in crime detection or employ more resources to make up the difference (which in the current economic climate is not going to happen)."

>> And yet, we are spending (a lot! of) money on 'systems' but don't have the people to 'follow-up' on the details or to be of use in near/real times of incident/crisis management...

"For those obsessed with travelling in secret, I suggest using cash only on public transport whilst wearing a bag over your head."

And yet, if you decide to travel in this way you'll end up on umpteen camera's, in the street waiting for the bus, on the platform at the station, on the train in the carriage...

But still, my counterpoints won't stop this attack on UK citizen's liberty, privacy, "right to a private life"*...

* as per the Human Rights legislation, UK and EU and as per UN Charter...

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Re: ANPR is effective

So with all these un-insured drivers being taken off the roads in droves has your insurance premium (pre-no claims discount) gone down?

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Holmes

I'm sure it is but...

You could also have pointed out that people are a common factor in all crimes, so the ability to track a person from the scene of a crime to another location is a useful tool for the police. So why don't we just issue pass books and have checkpoints like the old South Africa? Could it be because that might be a bit much, even with the currently (mostly) docile British public? Best then to sneak in the police state apparatus in another way.

Anyway, a quick look at the statistics (www.statistics.gov.uk) regarding trends in road accidents is quite illuminating.

Which makes me wonder. How come it cost me much less to insure a car 26-odd years ago when accident levels were higher and cars less safe? And who really benefits financially from points on the license from fixed point penalties, loss of no-claims discounts and fear of uninsured drivers?

You're not a shill from the insurance industry, are you, Mr Anonymous Coward? 'Cos these days I'm finding it increasingly hard not to suspect that it's really all about the money.

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@AC

"Unfortunately the motor vehicle is a common factor in many serious crimes (as well as the source of much minor crime)". Dihydrogen monoxide is a common factor in 100% of all crime, and yet it goes unregulated. It is a physically addictive substance, and there is no way to reduce dependence on it. The police need to know about everyone that uses it for our own safety.

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Coat

"have been funded by local businesses"

...for local people, obviously.

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Stop

I think the problem is less with the cameras...

but with the time the data is held for.

I don't have an objection with a registration plate associated with a current offense being flagged, and anything that gets the unregistered uninsured and unMOTed vehicles off the road is fine by me, but holding data for months or years just in case?

Nah.

Same objection as against collecting and keeping DNA data - it's an assumption that sooner or later we'll all be guilty of something, so it's needed 'just in case'.

If the collected DNA is not related to an open crime, destroy it immediately. If the registration plate is legal and there is no open crime related, destroy that. A couple of days seems reasonable; longer isn't. There's no reason why this should reduce the number of people caught driving without the necessary legal bits - that's surely most likely an immediate arrest from a police vehicle?

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Anonymous Coward

Required title

I suspect that most people can accept the use of ANPR for the purposes of identifying:

1. Untaxed vehicles

2. Uninsured vehicles

3. Vehicles without an MOT

4. Stolen vehicles

provided that no other record is kept.

My issues with the system are that:

1. it goes beyond that and provides the authorities (and I suspect not just the Police) with the ability to trace a journey (without judicial oversight) days/weeks/months later.

2. Has been implemented with no discussion, debate or agreement by the public.

3. Appears to have no judicial oversight.

For ANPR to be acceptable to me the following basic requirement must be in place as primary legislation:

"If the vehicle does not fall into one of the above 4 categories there _NO_ record kept, not even that a database lookup was made for that registration."

If this can not be done then the ANPR system should be switched off until it can fulfill that requirement.

The _ONLY_ extension I would consider is recording in relation to an existing investigation and judicial oversight _MUST_ exist for that, i.e. a court warrant permitting such record keeping is in force before the recording starts.

The manner in which ANPR has happened reinforces my view that currently the UK Police service (as a body) is:

a) unaccountable

b) arrogant

This in not my opinion of individual policemen/women, who are, in my experience to a man/woman, courteous, helpful and fair. The problem sits at the top of the tree and needs to listen, consider and respond a lot more to the views of the public before trust in the Police service is totally destroyed.

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Big Brother

"Welcomed locally..."?

(my earlier post looks lost)

I don't know of anyone who welcomes it. We only heard of it just over a month ago, like a fait accompli.

We were originally told they would be hidden for fear of vandalism, now they say they're visible.

Apparently the council denied all involvement, but the first few are mounted on council property...

The only way ANPR cameras are going to be reliably effective is if they are rolled out nationwide, otherwise the real crims will just avoid them and move on.

Is this where we want to go? I don't

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Big Brother

We use ANPR to target criminals and unsafe drivers, not law-abiding motorists,

Bullshit!

ANPR targets *everyone* who uses the road that the cameras are on, it monitors everyone, it sees every number plate and stores *ALL* the data, not just that from "criminals". If the Police could even just be trusted to delete the information from any vehicle not on a Watch List or which is traveling without tax or insurance, that would be better, but, no, they want to keep it all.

It also does damn all to target "unsafe drivers", it doesn't stop middle-lane hogs, it doesn't stop idiots who hoon up behind you in the outside lane at 100mph flashing their lights because you're in their way when you're making a legal (and safe) overtaking manoeuvre and it certainly doesn't stop Mr Sales Rep or White Van Man with mobile phones pressed to their ears as they slalom in and out of traffic because they think they can save 30 seconds on their journey time.

So I call Bullshit on Andy Piper and I hope more people will too so their phony justifications can be shown for the nonsense they are.

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14 Days

I can see them holding onto the information for 14 days, because that's the time limit for sending a NIP to the driver. After that it's too late.

Even so, as others have mentioned, it doesn't really do anything but note the existence on the roads of a vehicle with a particular plate, and with the prevalence of cloning of plates, they don't necessarily have proof it was the real one anyway.

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Bronze badge

Data retention

Whilst I understand the value of these cameras (assuming a prompt response on any alerts) I cannot see any lawful need to retain data relating to vehicles which have all the right documents to be on the road and which do not have markers for criminal activities.

It would be good to know what justification the police have to even consider recording this data let alone keeping it for any length of time.

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Justification?

"Crime Prevention"

which translates to 'We're the Police, fuck off'

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WTF?

"Welcomed locally..."?

By who, exactly? The local police, whose local station is closed out of hours?

The first we heard about them was a couple of weeks before they were due to be installed.

Royston might be a poster child because there are only about 5-6 roads into the town.

ANPR for the purposes the police are proposing need complete national coverage to be meaningful, otherwise the crims just shift to the next, uncovered town.

Do we really want to go there?

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Shooting themselves in the foot

I understand the need for this kind of technology and, in general, don't have too many objections as I can see the benefits.

But keeping data on people for _two_years_? And this is data on people about whom they have no investigative or criminal interest?

Surely they must be aware that this kind of project might garner the attention of civil liberty campaigners. Even with entirely innocent and law-abiding motives, I'd prefer that my every movement isn't being logged. I could sort-of accept it, on the understanding that they're quickly deleting data about the law-abiding majority but two years is taking the piss. That amount of time smacks of just not caring what anybody thinks. The arrogance alone makes me want to object to this entire project.

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Happy

@Matthew 3

"but two years is taking the piss."

I seem to recall they were looking to expand the storage at Hendon to a 5 year limit.

You don't seem to understand one thing.

The hardware is policy *neutral*.

Weather it's used to identify vehicles with expired tax disks, stolen vehicles, ones on a "suspect" list (and just what *are* the categories of that list?) or track *every* vehicle in the UK is defined *solely* by the policy of its operators.

Who operate without *any* law or statutory instrument to stop them.

Your privacy is at *their* discretion.

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WTF?

95%

"He also said that each camera cost £7,000, with the columns for each site costing from £7,500, and that they have a success rate of 95% at minimum."

So, does this mean that the cameras fit the columns 95% of the time? Or the columns stay up 95% of the time? Or 95% of all cameras work? Or 95% of all cameras lead to prosecutions? This is a vague and unhelpful statement!

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Silver badge

ANPR a good thing

When properly supervised, etc. Secrecy is NOT acceptable.

As is disclosure of the fixed camera locations - and all the locations which also feed into the ANPR system - such as just about every service station CCTV system in the country.

Approx 12% of cars in greater london are unregistered, untaxed and uninsured. Many use fake clone plates to try and get around the congestion charge. Cracking down on this kind of thing and being able to trace the movements of crooks, etc are all welcome uses of ANPR.

Use for political reasons or for fishing expeditions is completely UNacceptable, but I have to say that UK police are a lot better in this respect than other countries. (Police in NZ call political protesters "dissidents" as an example)

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WTF?

Run that by me again?

"Many use fake clone plates to try and get around the congestion charge. Cracking down on this kind of thing and being able to trace the movements of crooks, etc are all welcome uses of ANPR."

How do you crack down on the use of clone plates with ANPR?

Where do you send the fine to? Is there a Clone DVLA where all good crooks register their clone plates?

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Stop

And while you're at it...

Can anyone explain how ANPR could have prevented the death of a 3 year old by dangerous driving 2 weeks ago within the ANPR zone? (Or even how it could have caught the driver, who incidentally seems to have handed himself in anyway)

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Anonymous Coward

What They Say and What They Do

It seems there's a big difference between what the Police say they use ANPR for and what they really use it for. Talk to virtually any police authority and they will tell you that the purpose of ANPR is to catch people in the act of doing something naughty. So for things like speeding, driving in a bus lane, driving without tax, MOT or insurance retention should only be as long as it takes to decide whether an offence is being comitted. If no offence is being comitted then there's no reason to keep the data at all, if an offence is being comitted the retention period should be as long as it takes for due process to take place. How exactly do the police justify keeping the data for 90 days unless it's being used for something they are not telling us about?

I've heard of one council using a van equipped with CCTV and ANPR to enforce parking infringements. Now maybe I'm wrong here, but I thought that in order to prosecute for a parking offence a notice had to be affixed to the vehicle. That's certainly what a neighbouring authority thinks; their parking wardens not only affix a notice to the car, but take photographs of the car with notice attached as evidence thereof. Using ANPR and issuing parking tickets by post is AFAIK not legally enforcible.

BTW there is no such thing as an "ANPR Camera" they are perfectly normal cameras. The ANPR bit is software running on a computer which doesn't have to be anywhere near the camera. ANPR could be used on the images from virtually any CCTV camera without any special cameras being installed. This is, IMHO, more sinister than the idea of installing special ANPR cameras, since every CCTV camera in your town could be converted to ANPR without your knowing.

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Stop

the force would not encourage the publication of the locations

HEY PLOD

NOTHING TO HIDE. NOTHING TO FEAR.

Right? Eat your own damned dogfood you power-crazed lunatics.

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I think a boycott of Roystom might be in order...

...see how the local businesses feel then.

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FAIL

Boycott of Royston...

The town council seem to be orchestrating that with car park charges,

together with Tesco, which has a free car park, outside of the ANPR camera zone...

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Devil

Anyone here remember the miner's strike?

The police used illegal searches and wrongful arrests, illegally restricted people's movements and travel and violently assaulted many innocent people. All with the government's backing.

Now, do you really believe they, or our current government are the least little bit interested in privacy, freedom or democracy?

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