Posts Tagged ‘ring of steel’

This Vehicle Registration Plate Surveillance System Is a Warning to Us All

July 17, 2011 4 comments

Knight RiderNo CCTV has teamed up with Privacy International and Big Brother Watch to challenge the legality of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) [also known as ALPR in North America] camera network in the UK. A complaint has been sent to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) against a so-called ANPR “Ring of Steel” that is being constructed around the town of Royston in Hertfordshire — but for Royston read any town in the UK.


The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has constructed a network of cameras across the country without any public or parliamentary debate. These cameras record the number plate of each and every vehicle that passes, sometimes taking a photograph of the car and its occupants. The number plate is then compared to a “hotlist” of vehicles of interest, and whether or not the plate is on that list (ie a “hit”), all information gathered is stored for between two and five years. A Hertfordshire Police Authority report reveals the details of the data retention periods:

Currently number plate pictures are held for 2 years. Car pictures are held for 90 days. “Hits” information on text and number pictures are held for 5 years and car pictures are held for 2 years.

[‘Final report of the Topic Group on Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Technology use within Hertfordshire Constabulary’, p. 9]

The data collected from number plate cameras can be linked to multiple databases such as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database and the Motor Insurance Database Application System (MIDAS) which in turn can be used to identify the owner of the vehicle. The resulting database of Read more…