Complaint lodged against Royston ANPR cameras

PUBLISHED: 17:16 10 June 2011 | UPDATED: 11:15 15 June 2011

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THE lawfulness of the Royston automated number plate recognition camera “ring of steel” has been called into question by three civil liberty action groups.

A joint complaint from No CCTV, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch has been lodged with the Information Commissioners Office claiming ANPR cameras have no statutory instrument and there has been no public debate on the devices.

Charles Farrier, of No CCTV, said: “The national ANPR network is the biggest surveillance network that the public has never heard of.

“The use of ANPR as a mass surveillance tool constitutes a major assault on our common law foundations and the Rule of Law.

“It is a system of automated checkpoints that ought to have no place in a democratic society.”

The cameras will be installed at the end of the month and will take photographs of every car that drives in and out of Royston, storing its number plate on a national database.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has dismissed the complaint and said the cameras, funded by North Herts District Council and local businesses, “are entirely lawful”.

ANPR manager inspector Andy Piper said: “As I’m sure the majority of Royston residents are already aware, the cameras - which aren’t due to be installed until the end of June - are entirely lawful, have been funded by local businesses and the town council and are welcomed locally.

“We work closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office to ensure we adhere to national guidelines around ANPR. We use ANPR to target criminals and unsafe drivers, not law-abiding motorists, and have caught hundreds of burglars, robbers, uninsured drivers, drug dealers and other serious criminals.

“We repeat again the offer to these national groups, who use Royston as an example for their national campaigns, the opportunity to come and find out more about how we use ANPR in Hertfordshire and discuss their concerns.”

The Information Commissioners Office confirmed it received the complaint and is reviewing it.

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