By Rebecca Camber
Police are secretly photographing up to 14million motorists a day and keeping their details for years, it has emerged. Images of drivers and their front seat passengers are being captured by a network of cameras and held on a database without their knowledge, a police document has revealed.
Now police chiefs are facing a legal challenge from privacy campaigners, who say that automatic number plate recognition cameras are being used to spy on innocent road users.
Police and the Highways Agency have previously claimed that ANPR cameras on the roads do not transmit images of drivers.
But internal guidelines produced by the National Policing Improvement Agency show that in some areas ANPR ‘routinely captures the faces of front-seat occupants’.
According to the document, the images are held on a database in Hendon, North London, for at least two years – without drivers’ knowledge or permission.
The civil rights group Liberty is now planning to launch a High Court privacy action against police chiefs.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said the database of images had ‘no legislative basis’.
The ANPR network was established in 2006 and is now linked to more than 10,000 CCTV cameras.
It transmits data at five minute intervals to police and motoring agencies.
Officers are alerted if a vehicle is associated with a criminal so that they can track and intercept it.