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Royston Ring of Steel ANPR Complaint

Royston Ring of Steel ANPR Complaint

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Published by: illuminel on Aug 05, 2011
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Privacy International
Big Brother Watch
Mr Christopher GrahamInformation CommissionerThe Office of the Information Commissioner,Water Lane,Wycliffe House,Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF7
June 2011Dear Mr. Graham,
Complaint:Royston ANPR “ring of steel
We are writing on behalf of a number of people who have complained to No CCTV, PrivacyInternational and Big Brother Watch with regard to the installation of a "ring of steel" ofAutomatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras around the town of Royston inHertfordshire. We believe this project is unlawful.The cameras are being funded by Hertfordshire Constabulary, North Hertfordshire DistrictCouncil and Royston's Business Improvement District Royston First. The installation ofsuch a “ring of steel” in Hertfordshire is cause for particular concern as the Chief Constableof Hertfordshire Constabulary was until recently the Association of Chief Police Officers(ACPO) national lead on ANPR. You will be aware of concerns that have been raised inmany quarters about ACPO’s lack of accountability and the opaque relationships betweenthe organisation and revenue sources that operate within the ambit of its policies. ACPO’sstrong and continued support for ANPR has no legal basis or authority.We refer to your response to Privacy International’s ANPR complaint of 5
September2008 confirming that data collected by ANPR cameras is personal data. ACPO’s 'ANPRStrategy for the Police Service –2010-2013' also states:“Whilst a Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM) alone does not identify aparticularindividual, ANPR data will be treated as ‘personal data’ as defined in Article 2 of theEuropean Directive 95/46/EC.;”['ACPO in their 'ANPR Strategy for the Police Service 2010-2013', p6]Consequently this data falls within the remit of theData Protection Principles in Schedule 1of the Data Protection Act.
The use of ANPR by the police in the UK has not been as the result of any Parliamentarydebate, Act of Parliament or even a Statutory Instrument. It is extraordinary that such alarge and extensive network has been constructed in this way by ACPO (an unaccountablebody as acknowledged at the Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry on Policing, 27
July2010). With this in mind we turn first to the lawfulness of ANPR.
Your response to Privacy International of 5
February 2010 states:We have been provided with evidence from a number local police forces on the useof ANPR data and this indicates that ANPR can be a very useful tool in preventingand detecting a wide range of crimes; ranging from its use in the routine detection ofmotoring offences, through to the investigation of some very serious crimes andprevention of terrorism. We also understand that a national system can enable thepolice to analyse patterns of vehicle movements across force boundaries and canhelp with the identification and interception of people planning to commit acts ofterrorism.However the Data Protection Act is underpinned by the requirement that data processingmust be lawful.The ICO's 'Data Protection Act 1998 Legal Guidance' document contains a definition oflawfulness that states:“The natural meaning of unlawful has been broadly described by the Courts as“something which is contrary to some law or enactment or is done without lawful justification or excuse”. (R v R [1991] 4All ER 481).”['Lawfulness', p27 Data Protection Act 1998 Legal Guidance]In 'The specified purposes' section below we shall show that the specified purposes for theRoyston ANPR cameras do not meet the “lawful justification or excuse” requirement oflawfulness. Further as mentioned above, the police ANPR network (of which the Roystoncameras are a part) is not covered by any specific Primary or Secondary legislation.There have been many questions raised over the legality of the use of ANPR by the police.In the 2004 report 'Driving crime down' the then Home Secretary David Blunkett wrote thatexperience gained in an ANPR pilot "is likely to lead to the introduction of ANPR enablinglegislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows”, yet no such legislation has everemerged.Arguably the appropriate time for an ANPR legal framework was before the creation of acountry wide network. The Privacy International complaint to you resulted in a strongerfocus on access and retention issues, but management of such a system should not bedependent on reactive processes.Calls for such a legal framework have in recent years been presented as little more than atidying up exercise to make the expanding network legal, but there must be doubt as to thevalidity of a framework after the event and the introduction of retrospective legislation.
Furthermore simply introducing legislation at this point will not address any of the issuessurrounding ANPR.The Surveillance Commissioner's 2005-2006 Annual Report stated:“The unanimous view of the Commissioners is that the existing legislation is not aptto deal with the fundamental problems to which the deployment of ANPR camerasgives rise. This is probably because the current technology, or at least its veryextensive use, had not been envisaged when the legislation was framed. TheCommissioners are of the view that legislation is likely to be required to establish asatisfactory framework to allow for the latest technological advances.The position iscomplicated by the fact that the current technology can be used in a variety ofdifferent ways and at different levels of effectiveness. I am accordingly urging uponthe Home Secretary the desirability of promoting such enabling legislation as maybe needed.”['Annual Report of the Surveillance Commissioner', for 2005-2006, p19]Even the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has called for a legal framework forANPR. In the ACPO 'ANPR Strategy for the Police Service –2010-2013' under theheading 'Priorities for strategic change' they list:“To encourage Government to establish an effective legal basis for the police use ofANPR technology and for the sharing of data and assets between parties for lawenforcement purposes;”['ANPR Strategy for the Police Service –2010-2013', p12]This contrasts with the previous view of ACPO, who when asked for details of the statutorypowers / Act(s) of Parliament under which ANPR cameras are installed and used as a"core policing tool", simply stated that ANPR “does not require any legislation or statutorypowers” to effectively conduct nationwide vehicle surveillance [see Freedom of Informationrequest -'Details of statutory powers relating to ANPR', on the WhatDoTheyKnow website,2009].We alsonote that Minutes of a 26
July 2010 ICO Management Board Meeting state:“The Commissioner will meet shortly with a Home Office Minister to discuss CCTVregulation and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR). The coalition has said itwished to further regulate CCTV and introduce a statutory basis for ANPR systems.”[Minutes , Management Board Monday 26th July 2010 , p4]Many thought that a statutory basis for ANPR would be contained in the Protection ofFreedoms Bill now making its way through Parliament but in reality the Bill merely insertsANPR cameras along with CCTV into the definition of surveillance cameras. This amountsto no more than a confirmation of the current situation which the aforementioned voiceshave stated requires legislation.The proposed code of practice that is to be introduced by the Protection of Freedoms Billwill not be legally enforceable and as the Law Society told the Public Bill Committee onTuesday 22nd March: "There is a very limited opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny ofthose codes, and it seems to us that there ought to be a proper debate about where the

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