First camera in Royston's ANPR 'ring of steel' installed

PUBLISHED: 09:25 25 August 2011 | UPDATED: 16:25 25 August 2011

ANPR camera along Melbourn Road in Royston.

ANPR camera along Melbourn Road in Royston.

Daniel Wilson

THE first camera in the controversial automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) 'ring of steel' that will monitor every car that passes through Royston is thought to have been installed and operational.

It is the first of seven devices that will be placed around the town, and it is believed to have been erected in Melbourn Road.

However, this week police would not confirm this out of worries it would jeopardise the operation.

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “We have started installing them and I think just the one is up. The rest will be rolled out soon and we don’t want to reveal the specific locations, otherwise there’s no point putting them up.”

When news broke that Royston would become the first town in the country to be surrounded by the cameras it was pushed to the front line of a civil liberties battle.

National pressure groups – including Big Brother Watch, No CCTV and Privacy International – have opposed the plans, concerned that information will be retained and examined by data mining software.

As well as lodging a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office, they say there is no precedent for their installation.

Charles Farrier, of No CCTV, said: “Our position is still the same. We think this is wrong and it shouldn’t be done.

“We have a legal challenge which we’re hoping will roll this back, and we don’t undersatnd why they’re doing this.

“A lot of what they want to be done with fixed cameras can be done in cars – everything that has come out in the press about ANPR catching people, was cameras in cars.

“There’s no reason to monitor everyone’s movements, and it’s just not acceptable.”

The scheme is a joint venture between the police, North Hertfordshire District Council, and business partnership Royston First – which have all contributed funds to the project.

Royston has been chosen for the scheme because of its location, with both the A10 and A505 roads running through the town.

The remaining cameras will be put in place in the next few weeks.

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