[EPIC_IDOF] Police use cameras to track vehicles of suspects

Bruce Schneier schneier at counterpane.com
Wed Jul 20 11:04:17 PDT 2005

I've written about this in New Haven, CT:


This new story is from Scotland.



Police use cameras to track vehicles of suspects


LUCY ADAMS, Home Affairs Correspondent    July 20 2005

POLICE have created a database of more than 6000 vehicles of suspects
which they can track on special cameras as they move around the country.

On major roads across Scotland, the cameras, which look similar to
the speed ones, record thousands of licence plates every hour and
scan them against the database.

Those on the list are flagged up with the local force control room
with details of the direction in which they are travelling. Depending
on the intelligence held on the motorist, the vehicle could be
stopped immediately by officers or monitored during its journey.

Senior police say there are a "substantial number" of cameras across
the country aimed at detecting drugs traffickers, sex offenders,
suspected terrorists and banned or unlicensed drivers. Owners on the
list are not told, and civil rights campaigners have raised concerns
about whether the scheme is compatible with human rights legislation.

However, officers say Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR),
originally created for counter-terrorism, is a vital tool in
collecting intelligence on criminals and suspected terrorists.

Alan Burnett, spokesman on the system for the Association of Chief
Police Officers in Scotland, and assistant chief constable of Fife,
said: "It is directed against detecting travelling housebreakers,
potential terrorists, bogus callers and drug traffickers. This
technology is very much geared towards disrupting criminals such as
drug traffickers and it is not about prosecuting the motorist."

He said it was nothing to do with speeding or Big Brother, adding
that there were various lengths of time over which they could hold
the information: "A stolen vehicle may be on the list for two days,
but more serious intelligence may be kept on the list for up to 90

The Scottish Executive has spent ?1.5m on ANPR machines which can
check up to 3000 licence plates an hour on vehicles travelling at
speeds of up to 100mph. Forces are planning to connect this database
to the Scottish Intelligence Database (SID) to allow every officer to
be able to request that a vehicle of interest should be checked.

It is managed by the Scottish Criminal Records Office where a
sergeant is responsible for checking the information is held only for
a certain time and that it is compliant with human rights legislation.

John Scott, head of the Scottish Human Rights Centre, said he was
concerned about the lack of judicial scrutiny.

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