Feeds

ICO lets police maintain ANPR location secrecy

Failed to comply, but no action needed

High performance access to file storage

The Information Commissioner's Office has decided against forcing police to disclose the locations of vehicle tracking cameras.

The ICO said that Devon and Cornwall Police was correct in refusing to provide the locations of automatic numberplate recognition cameras (ANPR) that it ran in its area following a Freedom of Information request by Kable.

However, in a decision notice published on 23 September 2010, it said the force had failed to comply with procedural requirements of the request in refusing to publish the information. "The public interest was addressed in a generalised fashion, rather than separately in relation to each of the exemptions cited," it says. However, the force will not have to take any further action.

The ICO said the existence and extent of police ANPR cameras, which store the numberplates of vehicles passing for two years, "is of considerable significance to the balance of the public interest," and that the nationwide development of the system does raise questions about the surveillance implications.

But it adds that there is another element of public interest in the police not revealing the location of the cameras in order to prevent crime and apprehend offenders. It says the two public interest arguments are "finely balanced" with "very significant weight both for and against disclosure".

It said that because coverage of the road network is not comprehensive, and that disclosing the locations of cameras in Devon and Cornwall – which its staff have seen – would make it easier for potential offenders to avoid the areas and concentrate on those not covered.

While accepting that many ANPR cameras are clearly visible, and some of their locations may become known over time, the ICO said that it would be difficult for someone trying to avoid the cameras to be certain that they knew of all locations on a given route.

Devon and Cornwall Police has reconsidered its initial refusal to answer one question in the original Freedom of Information request. It told Kable that it holds no information on the locations of CCTV cameras with ANPR functionality that it uses. Some police forces draw ANPR data from cameras run by other organisations such as councils, but the answer suggests that Devon and Cornwall Police does not.

The ICO took a year and a day to come to its conclusion, Kable having disputed the force's refusal to disclose the information on 22 September 2009.

On 5 July, home secretary Theresa May ordered greater regulation of police ANPR systems, and is considering making them more transparent to the public.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.