Police in Hertfordshire, UK, have refused to remove controversial automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras.
Last week, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued an enforcement notice to Hertfordshire Constabulary stating that its use of ANPR is “disproportionate” and is in breach of the Data Protection Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Despite this ruling, the force remains defiant and insists that it will continue to use the invasive technology throughout the county.
A police spokesman said:
“The Constabulary takes very seriously its obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
“We share the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) view that ANPR cameras should be used only on justifiable grounds.
“In conclusion, the Constabulary intends to continue using ANPR cameras, which deliver very substantial policing benefits, but also to ensure that its particular deployment of such cameras is – and is seen to be – fully justified.
“We look forward to working with the commissioner to achieve those objectives.”
Stephen Eckersley, ICO head of enforcement, justified the ruling:
“The use of ANPR cameras and other forms of surveillance must be proportionate to the problem it is trying to address. After detailed enquiries, including consideration of the information Hertfordshire Constabulary provided, we found that this simply wasn’t the case in Royston.
“We hope that this enforcement notice sends a clear message to all police forces, that the use of ANPR cameras needs to be fully justified before they are installed. This includes carrying out a comprehensive assessment of the impact on the privacy of the road using public.”
Privacy campaigners have welcomed the decision. Charles Farrier, co-founder of No CCTV, said:
“The ICO has validated our view that blanket vehicle tracking should have no place in a democratic society.
“This camera network amounts to an automated checkpoint system that is the stuff of totalitarianism.”