Police secretly snapping up to 14m drivers a day

David Leppard writes in the Sunday Times:

Police chiefs are facing the threat of a High Court privacy action over a nationwide network of cameras that is being used to take up to 14m photographs of motorists every day.

The images are being stored daily on a huge “Big Brother” database linked to automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) technology to track vehicles’ movements.

The records not only include details of car registrations, but often photographs of drivers and front-seat passengers, a police document has revealed.

They are being held on a database in Hendon, north London, for at least two years without drivers’ knowledge or permission.

Critics argue that mass intrusion into people’s movements may not be “proportionate” and could breach the right to privacy under the Human Rights Act.

This weekend Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, the civil rights group, said it planned to launch the first legal challenge to the surveillance system.

Internal police documents apparently reveal that people as well as vehicles can be tracked:

Police insist the system concentrates on capturing a narrow picture of a car’s number plate. However, internal guidelines produced by the National Policing Improvement Agency show that in some areas ANPR “routinely captures the faces of front-seat occupants”.