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.”