Proposal to Store ANPR Records Up to 10 Years Faces Criticism in England

Published Date : Dec 22, 2015

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) is particularly helpful for traffic management. In traffic management applications, ANPR is used for speed enforcement, red light control, and congestion charging. Vehicle parking is expected to be the most promising application segment in the global automatic number plate recognition market in the coming years. This can be attributed to the increased adoption of ANPR in parking management and parking toll collection. ANPR systems constitute of high-speed cameras with IR filters, user interface, application software, processors for optical character recognition, and an alert capability. The storage capacity of the high-speed cameras is large and this is utilized by authorities to save information about the licence numbers.

In England, the police is thinking to expand the storage capacities of ANPR cameras from two years to anywhere between seven and ten. This would mean that the details of billions of road journeys would be saved for up to ten years. Presently, there are about 8,000 ANPR cameras in the U.K. which record around 10 bn number plates per year. These cameras transmit around 25-30 mn read records to the central data centre every day. Since 2012, these figures have doubled. According to the Metropolitan Police Service, this data contributes to an average of 106 arrests made per month.

Though the police plans to store ANPR records up to ten years, a government surveillance body is opposing this plan on account of interference into a person’s privacy. Tony Porter, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner for England and Wales, has mentioned that people might not be comfortable with the state keeping this type of information for years. The National Police Chief’s Council has stated that the ANPR user group will explore the various operational and legal implications before going ahead with the plan.