Following on from the worrying report in the Sunday Times about the plans for a 2 year data retention of innocent motorists vehicle movements on the forthcoming new National ANPR Database, we have had a reply from ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Essentially they confirm the Sunday Times story, whilst obviously questioning the sensationalist tone of the headline and of the article.
ACPO were kind enough to send us a copy of their public domain document issued by the ACPO National ANPR User Group in October 2004.
It does not seem to be published yet on ACPO's website, which does contain many other policy and guidance notes, whilst proclaiming that ACPO is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act 2000. How this can be so is a topic worth a few blog postings all on its own, given that ACPO, despite being a "company limited by guarantee", is funded mostly by the Home Office, and is involved in supervising various public policing policies.. How can it not be classed as a "public body" under the FOIA ?
However, since this document is marked as "This document can be published on any Web Site that the public have access", here it is: "E.C.H.R., Data Protection & RIPA Guidance Relating to the Police use of A.N.P.R (Excluding speed enforcement devices). (Micrsoft Word format)
The Guidance shows that all the right questions about the European Convention on Human Rights, article 8 the Right to Privacy, the Data Protection Act and the Regulation of investigatory Powers Act etc. have all been asked by these senior Policemen. These questions are even more relevant to a centralised, National ANPR Database scheme than they are to isolated roadside ANPR cameras or even to ANPR schemes run by a single Police Force.
However, there has literally been no public debate or even Parliamentary scrutiny, about important decisions such as the Data Retention Period.
Who exactly decided that 2 years (or even longer if "someone" gives permission) was the appropriate data retention period for "national security" or that 90 days" was the appropriate period for "general crime policing" purposes, of innocent motorists' vehicle movement data ? Any ANPR data involved in an actual Major Crime is retained for at least 6 years.
10 FIFTH PRINCIPLE (Retention)
Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.
The length of time that data processed in the course of the deployment of ANPR technology is retained will be dependent upon the nature of the deployment. However, it is important that data is retained for only as long as the operational need to do so remains.
When using systems that compare VRNs against a data set extracted from another collection, with a view to locating specific vehicles relevant to a specific operation or policing activity, the retention of VRNs not sought in connection with that operation or activity may violate this principle. Where the facility exists for the technology to ignore VRNs not forming part of the extracted data collection consideration should be given to using this. This issue should be considered prior to deployment.
When deciding whether to retain the data or not, the following questions should be considered: -
- Is there a lawful purpose for retaining the data collected?
- Is the data collected relevant to the registered purpose?
- What value is there in retaining the data for future use?
If it is considered appropriate to retain the data, careful consideration will need to be given to the length of the retention period.
In judging how long to retain such data the requirement to hold personal data for no longer than is necessary must always be complied with.
For those deployments in connection with a specific operation or activity the retention period will be no longer than is necessary for that specific operation or activity. Data required as evidence in legal proceedings will be retained in accordance with force policies on the retention of case files.
Data should not be retained on the grounds that it might become of use for some other purpose at some future date.
If the deployment was not in connection with a specific operation or activity and there are grounds to retain the data, the retention period should be no longer than is necessary bearing in mind retention periods for similar data gathered using more conventional methods. It is essential that the lawful purpose for the deployment is recorded and the following retention periods may offer some guidance when considering an appropriate retention period.
10.1 Major Incident Records
Major Incident Records are those relating to the investigation of Major Crimes and includes the following: -
Murder, Manslaughter (including Corporate Manslaughter), Abduction, kidnap, extortion, Rape (where the identity of the offender is unknown) and Fatal Road Traffic Collisions where the offending vehicle or driver is not known.
ANPR data collected as part of the investigation of a Major Crime should normally be kept for 6 years, or the duration of the sentence imposed on the offender(s) whichever is the longer, except where legal proceedings, appeals or reviews are pending at the expiry of that period.
10.2 Crime Intelligence Data
Current guidelines direct that all intelligence reports/data should be reviewed on a frequent and regular basis and considered for deletion, subject to individual force policy. Intelligence graded under the 5 x 5 x 5 assessment criteria may now be deleted at the same time, according to force policy, irrespective of the initial grading.
10.3 National Security ANPR Deployments
Following deployment of any ANPR system for National Security purposes the data generated should be retained for the following periods: -
VRN - 2 years
Plate patch image - 2 years
Video Tape - 3 months (2 years if digital)
Digital Image - 2 years
Elswhere in this document, it is pointed out that "national security" is a determination about specific events or investigations, and is not confined simply to actual ANPR cameras etc. which have been specifically installed for "national security" purposes. i.e. any and every ANPR camera and database could be used and retained for "national security, thereby sidestepping the Humaan Rights Act, the Data Protection Act etc..
10.4 General Crime ANPR Deployments
Following deployment of ANPR as part of a general crime initiative the data will (whether a 'hit' or 'no hit') be retained for a period of 2 years in a 'live, searchable system' incorporating 'a controlled access environment' after 90 days. This period of retention is to facilitate the searching of that data on a case-by-case basis, should a crime committed during the deployment come to light during that 2-year period. It would be expected that after the initial 90 days period, the data will be 'partitioned' for the rest of its retention period. In the period of 91 to 2 years, the data will only be accessed for a justified policing need. Access to this data will be 'controlled and documented' to ensure its compliance with the proportionality, justification and use.
"91 to 2 years" should probably read as "91 days to 2 years"
In exceptional circumstances there may be operational grounds to justify retention of ANPR data beyond the 2-year period. Should this occur a record of the grounds should be retained.
The general rule is that ALL ANPR data should be retained.
For the first 90 days, it should be available, to those authorised, for post crime interrogation and investigation. The 'post crime and interrogation' aspect is our stated purpose in respect of the Data Protection Act. This enables everyday investigations to use the ANPR tool to identify suspects, witnesses or patterns in the High Volume/Low Level crime arena.
From 91 days to 2 years, the data should be partitioned from 'general' viewing, and only authorised persons may interrogate the data for 'Major Crime and Terrorism', as well as Crime Pattern Analysis, This is our stated purpose in respect of the Data Protection Act. This enables investigations of a significant magnitude, as dictated by Senior Management, to use ANPR data to identify suspects, witness, and patterns.
Who is reposnsible for checking that the principles laid out in this Guidance are actually being adhered to in practice ? This ACPO Guidance is not a Statutory Code of Conduct and is therefore unenforcable in law.
To whom can a member of the public complain to if they feel that their privacy has been breached disproportionately ? How will they even know that they have been under surveillance in the first place ?
What sanctions are there against misuse of the system ?
Given that many of the "fixed ANPR" camera plans seem to involve other agencies, local council and private sector partnerships, how can the public be assured that such shared network infrastructure or low paid personnel, outside th edirect control of the Police, do not become a security vulnerablity or "backdoor" through which the very sensitive data held on the Police National Computer and other intelligence systems which the ANPR systems are connected to can be illegally accessed ?
We think that ANPR is a legitimate crime fighting tool, but the lack of any proper Privacy protection or of any effective Iindepenedent oversight, of this potentially massively intrusive centralised surveillance system as it is currently evolving, is not acceptable in the supposedly "safe, just and tolerant" society which the Home Office claims to be building.