Spy cameras to be regulated following criticisms

6 July 2010 by

The Coalition Government is to introduce a system of statutory regulation to govern the use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, responding to criticism of its scheme in Birmingham which was said to be targeting Muslim residents.

As we posted recently, ANPR cameras were controversially introduced in two predominantly Muslim areas of Birmingham under a scheme funded by an counter-terrorism initiative; the cameras have since been covered with plastic bags while a consultation process is undertaken

According to the Guardian, there are more than 4,000 such cameras across the country, which feed information to a national database. Each entry includes a photograph of the front of the vehicle, registration details, and the date, time and location at which the image was taken. The information is routinely stored for two years, and the database holds over 7.6 billion records.

ANPR cameras were introduced in 2006 to tackle uninsured drivers, but since that time the uses to which they and the database have been put have expanded. They played a role in tracing the Ipswich murderer Steve Wright and the movements of the gang that sought to bomb London and Glasgow in 2007.

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