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New 'Code of Conduct' for Traffic Cameras

March, 7 2011

Number Plate News

The CCTV systems run by councils and police may be set for a 'code of conduct' overhaul by the government.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera systems are due to be included in the review, with the length of time that data is withheld coming under the spotlight.

The shake-up follows a public apology by West Midlands Police for erecting approximately 200 "spy-cameras" in predominantly Muslim areas of Birmingham.

Derided by the people of Birmingham, many of the cameras were hidden, with funding coming from a £3m government pot allocated to tracking terrorism.

"CCTV and ANPR systems play a vital role in the prevention and detection of crime," explained James Brokenshire, crime prevention minister.

"However it is important they are used in a way that does not invade law-abiding people's privacy or undermine the public's confidence in them.

"That's why we are establishing this code and that's why we are asking the public what they think should be in it."

The Home Office launched a 12-week consultation on 1st March to look into the use of the code, with a new commissioner set to oversee its implementation.

"Anyone considering the use of such technology should first undertake a thorough assessment of the purpose, likely value, and wider impact of such a course of action and determine in the light of that whether or not to proceed," a spokesperson revealed.

"Good practice suggests that an important way of commanding public confidence is by ensuring transparency of process in the ownership, purpose and use of surveillance cameras."

Following a damning independent report, West Midlands Police confirmed in December that 200 cameras would be removed from Birmingham.

West Midlands Police maintain that none of the cameras were ever switched on.

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