Police chiefs in Britain are facing the threat of a High Court privacy action over a nationwide network of cameras that is being used to photograph motorists on the roads network, according to a report in The Sunday Times.
The automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) system – which was developed to help police in the fight against crime and terrorism – is being used to capture up to 14 million photographs of vehicles and their passengers every day. The images of millions of motorists are held on a police database, which is linked to the ALPR technology to track vehicles’ movements. It is argued that the system invades motorists’ personal privacy.
Civil rights group Liberty said it planned to launch the first legal challenge to the surveillance system. Speaking to The Sunday Times, Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the group, said: “It’s bad enough that images and movements of millions of innocent motorists are being stored for years on end. That the police are doing this with no legislative basis shows a contempt for parliament, personal privacy and the law.”
The ALPR network is linked to more than 10,000 CCTV cameras on motorways, main roads and in petrol stations. Software being developed for the system will eventually allow police to track the movements of up to 100 million vehicles at any time.