Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology (ANPR) is now a frequent sight on the UK’s roads and with fewer traffic police it is one way in which technology is being used to help manage the road better. It is particularly helpful in identifying those driving without tax and insurance as well as those who drive too fast through average speed zones. It is also used in a more mundane way by giving information about traffic conditions and speeds across the network. The technology is undoubtedly helpful, but people are often concerned about the privacy implications of this technology . Those who fall into the ‘concerned’ category will be pleased to hear that a question was asked on this very issue in the House of Commons in recent weeks. The response was as follows:
Wed, 21 July 2010 | House of Commons – Written Answer
Mike Penning: All data captured by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s mobile automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras is stored securely and is protected using security codes generated using Home Office Police Scientific Development Branch (PSDB 3/96) published standards for data protection. The data captured from DVLA’s static cameras is held on a secure data storage server. Data from the Highways Agency’s ANPR cameras is scrambled at source into a non-unique code which can apply to more than one vehicle simultaneously. This process renders the data as non-personal under the Data Protection Act 1998. continues….
and how much has been spent to date:
Mike Penning: The total cost of establishing the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) capability from 2002-03 to date is £7.7 million. This includes all capital and running costs (including the cost of the vehicles). The total cost of establishing the Highway’s Agency’s ANPR capability from September 2001 to date is £12.5 million. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) capital expenditure on ANPR and Weigh in Motion Sensors from 2003-04 to March 2010 was £3.4 million. This figure cannot be disaggregated without incurring disproportionate costs.