ANPR cameras - 322/15
Dated: 31 Jul 2015
Date of request: 25/03/15
Date of response: 15/04/15
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 25 March 2015 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.
As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
I am writing to enquire about the details of ANPR cameras currently in your district. It would be hugely beneficial for us to find out:
1) The current total number of ANPR cameras in your district
2) The names of the roads and streets covered i.e. camera locations
3) How many days a week/month/year (as appropriate) these cameras are monitored
4) How many hours a day/week/month/year (as appropriate) these cameras are monitored
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.
I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows.
1. There are currently 92.
2. Information at this part will not be disclosed and by withholding we rely on the following exemptions:
Section 24 (1) National Security
Section 31 (1) (a) (b) (c) Law Enforcement
Public Interest in Favour of Disclosure
The public are entitled to know how public funds are spent and resources distributed within the area of policing. Disclosure of the requested information would enable the general public to hold the force to account on the way in which ANPR technology is deployed. Detailing where cameras are located would show the effectiveness of ANPR cameras in combating terrorist activities. The information would also be likely to aid public debate on the level of surveillance in the UK.
Public Interest in Favour of Non Disclosure
Security measures are put in place to protect the community that we serve. Any confirmation that cameras are held within a specific area would highlight to those with criminal intent details of which locations would be monitored by ANPR, allowing them to avoid such routes and therefore subsequent detection. Revealing specific locations would dramatically weaken the effective use of ANPR as a monitoring tool in the fight against crime and terrorism on a local and national scale.
In the current security climate within the United Kingdom, no information which may aid a terrorist should be disclosed. To what extent this information may aid a terrorist is unknown, but it is clear that it will have a considerable negative impact on the force's ability to monitor terrorist activity. The public entrust the Police Service to make appropriate decisions with regard to their safety and protection and the only way of reducing risk is to be cautious with the information that is released.
The usefulness of this data can be even more impactive when linked to other information gathered from various sources about terrorism. The more information disclosed over time gives a more detailed account of the tactical infrastructure of not only the force area but also the country as a whole. Disclosure would show how many points of entry into the area are not protected and therefore liable to exploitation. Any incident that results from such a disclosure would by default affect national security.
Public Interest in Favour of Disclosure
There is information within the public domain confirming that the police use ANPR in relation to the prevention and detection of terrorism, serious crime, volume crime and fatal and serious injury road traffic incidents.
Confirmation of any ANPR camera locations in a specific area would enhance the public's knowledge about how ANPR is used by Northumbria Police and the specific nature of the technology. There is a lot of contention over the use of ANPR as a system that is used to spy and monitor people's activities. Disclosure would aid the public's understanding of how ANPR operates and for what direct purpose, stopping any incorrect rumours or falsehoods that may already exist.
Public Interest in Favour of Non Disclosure
Disclosure would compromise any ongoing criminal investigations, or proceedings, which make use of the data produced by the camera. In addition, the technology can be used in combating acts of terrorism but also in the prevention and detection of crime and in the reduction of death and injury on the roads. Therefore, to disclose the location of any cameras below force level, their capability to prevent such activity would be compromised. Release of the information would mean that the ANPR's role in the prevention and detection of crime would be compromised. The safety of the public is of paramount importance to the policing purpose, and an increase in crime would place the public at risk of harm.
Disclosure of any information below force level would have would have a serious negative impact on the ability of the Police to carry out operational or intelligence lead policing. Weakening the mechanisms used to monitor any type of criminal activity, and specifically terrorist activity would place the security of the country in an increased level of danger. ANPR is one of many tools used to help maintain national security and is not outweighed by the fact that disclosure would make the general public better informed about the system and it's use.
Information disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act is made public to the world when released, and has an impact on all areas of the country. Disclosure of locations where ANPR is used would mean that any subsequent FOI request for other areas would be treated similarly. A series of disclosures for this information would mean that terrorists and criminal would be able to build up a picture of where such technology was deployed throughout the whole country. Disclosure at a national level would encourage those with criminal intent to relocate and intensify their activities to areas that are less well covered by ANPR as they would have a renewed level of confidence in evading detection.
ANPR needs to be understood as a vital tool in safeguarding the security of the country and any disclosure that would impact on this must be of a greater importance to the public. ANPR is an internationally recognised tool that can significantly reduce volume crime, increase detection rates, tackle cross-border crime and provide vital intelligence for use in counter terrorist and serious crime work.
Having considered all the factors, at this moment in time, it is our opinion that for these issues the balance test favours non disclosure at this point of the request
3 & 4 No information held. We do not collate this information.
Due to the different methods of recording information across 43 forces, a specific response from one constabulary should not be seen as an indication of what information could be supplied (within cost) by another. Systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the data. For this reason responses between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative purposes.
The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual property rights of Northumbria Police. Your use of the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation. In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial purpose.
How to complain
If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us underour complaints procedure which can be found at:http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/foicomprights.asp
If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.