The main civil liberties issue is that the system stores the time and location of the license plate check. Once enough of these systems are deployed they can be used to track people by following vehicle movements. We believe that, at a minimum, there should be some controls on how this data is stored and used, for example by having to apply for a tracking warrant.
Nothing to fear?
The Police were represented on Close Up by Superintendent Carey Griffiths who said that these fears were incorrect: "The system we are using here, we don't retain the data."
He went on to say: "Most of the cameras and systems we use drop it off at the end of the shift. We're certainly not using it for data mining."
"Details of vehicle movements captured during ANPR deployments will be retained on a secure Police database."
What sort of data is stored?
"The time, data and a photograph of all vehicles passing the ANPR camera is stored." and "Yes it will include the location or where the device was deployed."
And will they be used for tracking?
"Police may search the stored data if there is a belief that there may be information relation to a crime; e.g. where a serious crime has taken place and Police are looking for an offender's vehicle."
And do the Police think they need a warrant to track people in this way?
"There is no requirements for police to apply for a warrant for any ANPR information as it is gathered in a public place."
The big question
Who is correct - Superintendent Carey Griffiths, Road Policing Manager, who just appeared on Close Up or Superintendent Paula Rose, National Manager Road Policing, who wrote to us in March and December 2011?
Has the policy changed in the meantime? Was Superintendent Paula Rose incorrect? Or has Superintendent Carey Griffiths been misleading us all on national TV?
Edit (19/8/2012): We have written to the Commissioner of Police to ask for an explanation and will report back with any answer we get.