Big Brother Watch has teamed up with other civil liberties groups to challenge the right of the police in Royston, Hertfordshire to install a so-called ring of steel made-up of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Cameras. We have submitted a complaint, available to view here, to the Information Commissioner, explaining that we view it to be not just an invasion of privacy but also illegal.
We hope that with mainstream media such as the Guardian now picking up this campaign, we can put real pressure on the government to have a full and frank public debate about the use of CCTV cameras in Britain, especially these ANPR cameras which monitor the movement of millions of vehicles everyday while accumulating a database of journeys which can be stored for years without consent.
We have campaigned for months on this project now, ever since rumours of its existence first appeared. There is no justification for a system such as this in a small town like Royston with a population under 15,000 people. There is no history of organised crime or serious drug distribution in the area, and no public consultation was carried out prior to the installation of the cameras. The recent dismantling of ‘Project Champion’ in Birmingham proves that with enough publicity and public anger, intrusive projects such as this can be scraped.
There are now more than 4,200 ANPR cameras yet the public still remain relatively unaware of their existence. Big Brother Watch, No CCTV and Privacy International hope this complaint will open up a debate about their use and justification.