Royston’s ‘ring of steel’ remains in use despite investigation into unlawful practices

08:31 24 February 2014

(ANPR) cameras are placed at seven locations around the town

(ANPR) cameras are placed at seven locations around the town

Archant

Royston’s controversial ‘ring of steel’ camera system remain in use as investigations continue into possible unlawful processing of data.

The future of the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, which are placed at seven locations around the town and monitor all traffic going in and out of Royston, was called into question last July when the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) served Hertfordshire Police with an enforcement notice demanding that the system be reviewed because it “contravened the First Data Protection Principle by processing personal data unlawfully.”

But six months later, the cameras remain in use as the review continues.

The ICO investigation came about following a joint complaint from pressure groups, No CCTV, Big Brother Watch and Privacy International.

Charles Farrier, from No CCTV, said: “In July 2013 Herts Police were told by the ICO that the cameras were unlawful and given 90 days to comply with an enforcement notice.

“When those 90 days elapsed in October and the ICO’s requirements had not been met, the Royston cameras became illegal. For some reason the ICO has decided to allow Herts Police to have yet more time to review their cameras.

“Over two-and-a-half years have passed since our complaint was lodged, meanwhile the car movements of drivers suspected of no wrong doing are still being collected and stored in local and national databases, where they will be retained for at least two years. It is our firm belief that the cameras should have been switched off in line with the ICO’s enforcement notice and we still hope that the ICO will take some action.”

The ring of steel was put in place in 2011, and jointly funded by the police, North Herts District Council and the Royston First Business Improvement District company.

A spokesman for Herts police told said: “Hertfordshire Constabulary has taken the position of openly engaging with the Information Commissioner’s Office and a wide range of stakeholders, around our use of ANPR cameras.

“We know they deliver substantial policing benefits for the community but we are very aware of also ensuring that we fulfil our obligations to privacy and data protection.

“We have been very grateful to those who have contributed to this issue which we hope is close to being resolved.”

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