Figures recently released have revealed that in excess of 8.9 million number plates have been photographed in the Milton Keynes area in 2009, which is a significant rise on the 1.7 million that were snapped in 2008.
Over the last five years, Thames Valley Police have spent just under £2 million on Automatic Number Plate recognition, with this amount expected to increase even further during the first quarter of 2010.
However, many motorists are still sceptical, despite reassurance from police that it is vital in keeping the public safe, by keeping disqualified and uninsured rivers off the road, and in combating serious crime.
Policy Officer from campaign group Liberty said:
"ANPR's really just come about a bit by stealth. There's nothing in legislation that sets out anything about ANPR. It seems to have increased massively in the last few years, in particular in Milton Keynes there's a massive increase.
"We're not saying that ANPR cannot be used. What we're saying is when it was introduced it was introduced only in relation to checking on uninsured vehicles, and you can sort of see the sense in that. But now it's become some sort of general crime prevention tool and yet there's never been any debate about it at a public level or any parliamentary debate."
Thames Valley Police responded:
"The data which is collected is held within the guidelines set out by ACPO and NPIA, the details of which can be found on the respective websites.
"Within TVP we have specialist training for all users who have access to the data which is held on a secure database, although all of the users are vetted to officer level before having access they are also required to sign a document stating that they are aware of and agree to abide by the Human Rights act, Data Protection Act and internal instructions in relation to why they require to search the database and how they deal with the information. This is also audited regularly and any misuse is treated the same as any other police system, very seriously, with a good chance of criminal charges being brought."
The debate is sure to continue well into 2010, with Automatic Number Plate recognition becoming more and more widespread.