Tony Porter, Posted on:15 February 2018 - Categories:ANPR, CCTV, Local authorities, National surveillance camera strategy, National surveillance camera stratgey, Policing, Privacy, Surveillance camera code of practice, Surveillance camera commissioner, Surveillance cameras
Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras (ANPR) fall within my statutory regulatory remit. ANPR is a defined surveillance camera system, by virtue of Section 29(6)(a) of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. The system is operated by police forces who are relevant authorities as described by that particular legislation who therefore have a responsibility to have regard to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, issued by the Secretary of State when operating ANPR. The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) have produced statistics which indicate that there are approximately 8,500 cameras deployed which are collecting more than 25 million reads of vehicle number plates every day. This infrastructure is a powerful and intrusive capability and is currently being further developed as part of the Home Office backed programme to deliver the National ANPR Service (NAS). It is anticipated that NAS will have an even greater capacity to conduct surveillance of citizens.
I have for a number of years, challenged various aspects of the police use of ANPR and the aspirations around NAS. I have been both delighted and impressed by the manner in which the police in particular, have risen to those challenges. In particular I made observation to the police strategic leaders of ANPR that there should be an independent ANPR advisory council established to challenge and inform development and use of the infrastructure. I was encouraged when the police leaders accepted my recommendation and upon their invitation I agreed to establish and chair such a forum.
So it was therefore that I very recently chaired my first ANPR Independent Advisory Group meeting which comprises of very committed and impressive individuals. Members of the group include representatives from the Home Office, Academia, Police and Crime Commissioners, the police civil liberty groups , driving and related industry specialists, human rights lawyers, the Information Commissioner’s Office and others. Indeed whether you believe that ANPR is a necessary ingredient of everyday society to keep us safe from terrorists and organised crime groups, or you feel it is an overly powerful surveillance capability which is being used by the state with no clear basis in law to disproportionately prosecute minor traffic offences, you may be assured that your views are represented.
Our first meeting primarily centered around discussions to agree our terms of reference, membership of the group and air what we considered to be the primary issues of concern which we as a group have and which the strategic governing leads of ANPR should be asked to consider and respond to. The overriding principle underpinning this group is that the privacy of individuals is the priority consideration of everything we do. We are determined to ensure that what we do is transparent and are looking to extend invitations to others to be part of the group. Be assured this is not a talking shop. We are not interested in that. We are about influencing change in support of the public interest where change is required. I am excited by the energy and commitment on display at the first meeting and know that good things will come from this group.
CCTV User Group comment:
So how does ANPR Work?