UK roadside surveillance cameras capturing 34 million images every day

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Sky News has revealed that roadside cameras are capturing around 34 million images every day, highlighting the huge scale of surveillance camera's on UK's roads.


Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology uses cameras to scan number plates and log journey details whenever the car passes. The information is then added to a central database, which gives police the ability to access the information as well as being utilised by forces across the country.


The figures show that for one week in October last year, approximately 34 million images were taken by ANPR cameras every day. They were then added to a database that now contains at least 22 billion records, which are all kept for two years.


The police are utilising the database more and more. In 2014, they made 300,758 searches, which was an increase from 194,317 in 2012.


Concerns have been expressed over the use of the cameras, with the Information Commissioner's Office slamming the recent figures.


Jonathan Bamford, head of steric liaison at the ICO, told Sky News: "You've really got to ask the question about the extent of ANPR and the amount of records that it's collecting."


He continues to say: "There are a lot of people going around on their ordinary day to day business doing nothing wrong, innocent individuals - those are being acquired at the rate of 30 million or so a day and being retained for a number of year".


The original aim for the introduction of ANPR was to be used for counter terrorism operations in Northern Ireland, which was then introduced as a national system in March 2006.


The national ANPR network now collects data from 9,000 roadside cameras and since 2006 the number of records has continued to soar, from 35 million in 2006, to 7.6 billion records in 2010, to more than 22 billion in 2015.


Police claim that the system is crucial in helping to identify wanted or suspicious vehicles when crook increasingly use the road network to carry out their crimes.


The Home Office issued this statement: "The Automatic Number Plate Recognition system is a valuable source of intelligence and evidence for police in the prevention and detection of crime."


"Its use is subject to strict safeguards in the Data Protection Act, as well as the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice."


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