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Police use of ANPR in Royston ruled illegal

Today the Information Commissioner has ruled on a joint complaint from Big Brother Watch, No CCTV and Privacy International, concerning the use of automatic number plate recognition technology in Royston?

In a victory for BBW, our complaint was upheld and The ICO found that Hertfordshire Constabulary failed to carry out “any effective impact assessments” and that the system was “unlawful” as it breached the Data Protection Act, and that it was not justifiable for Hertfordshire Constabulary to log every vehicle passing through the town on its system.

The ICO’s head of enforcement Stephen Eckersley said: “It is difficult to see why a small rural town such as Royston, requires cameras monitoring all traffic in and out of the town, 24 hours a day. The use of ANPR cameras and other forms of surveillance must be proportionate to the problem it is trying to address.”

He said that other UK police forces should be taking note of Royston’s plight. “We hope that this enforcement notice sends a clear message to all police forces, that the use of ANPR cameras needs to be fully justified before they are installed. This includes carrying out a comprehensive assessment of the impact on the privacy of the road-using public.”

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The idea that it is acceptable for the police to record the details of every car entering and leaving a small town was always ridiculous.

“This sends a clear message that the blanket logging of vehicle movements is not going to be within the law and it is now essential that the ICO ensures other police forces are abiding by the law.

“Yet again we find the public placed under surveillance when the police force was unable to justify why the surveillance was necessary or proportionate. Whoever took the decision to press ahead with this ring of steel and to ignore the law so brazenly should be clearing their desk today.”

Posted on by Big Brother Watch Posted in Home

13 Responses to Police use of ANPR in Royston ruled illegal

  1. Neil R

    But according to the Daily Mail…
    Last night Hertfordshire Constabulary said it intended to carry on using the cameras – and was developing a ‘privacy impact assessment’ to justify their use.
    A spokesman said: ‘The Constabulary intends to continue using ANPR cameras, which deliver very substantial policing benefits, but also to ensure that its particular deployment of such cameras is – and is seen to be – fully justified.’

    So they just ignore the ruling and carry on as before? Is BBW going to let them get away with that?

    • Knight

      Sounds like the ICO is toothless and not fit for purpose. Either that or Herts Police have Common Purpose ‘graduates’ in command.

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  3. Stephen

    Excellent news. Congratulations.

  4. Mike

    If they do carry on using the cameras, it ‘s more evidence of a worrying trend. Holding the DNA of innocent people was deemed illegal in the EU. But police have ignored the ruling. I wrote to my area’s chief constable, he said he would not remove my DNA (I have commited no crime) until a law was passed in the UK that required him to do so.
    I know who’ll be first against the wall come the revolution! :)

  5. Scott

    It may interest BBW to know that there are ANPR cameras sprouting up here in Manchester too, specifically on the stretch of Chester Road between the city centre and Old Trafford. ANPR cameras suddenly appeared there a few months ago covering this dual-carriageway in both directions, yet I am not aware of any particular requirement for logging cars going to and/or this area; the powers-that-be cannot claim it’s to do with people attending a football match because (a) there are multiple other routes to Old Trafford that not covered by ANPR (that I know of!), and (b) most people attending football matches there seem to travel by tram!

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  7. billybloggs

    They will carry on regardless until orderd to cease and desist by the Home Secretary, In all probabilitly Hertfordshire Constabulary has a nasty Common Purpose infestation.

  8. dobbins

    Well done BB Now what about the supermarkets that are using ANPR every day

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  11. Simon

    St Albans in Hertfordshire also has ANPR cameras covering (what appears to be) all entrances/exits to St Albans. Will these be removed too?

  12. Legion

    As usual the arrogance of the police force is staggering! They are a law unto themselves, do what they want, illegally, and get away with it. How dare we question what they do, us peasants must know our place – under their jackboots! And they act so suprised the general public have no respect for them. When they changed to their paramilitary uniforms and started making up their own laws, that was it for me and I suspect most of the public.

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