Home Office Minister Paul Goggins answered a Parliamentary Question about Automatic Number Plate Recognition databases recently.
Note how the Answer gives the misleading impression that the data belonging to innocent drivers will only be retained for 2 years.
In fact if you actually read the Association of Chief Police Officers' guidance, which the Answer quotes from, but which it does not provide a reference to the title ("E.C.H.R., Data Protection & RIPA Guidance Relating to the Police use of A.N.P.R (Excluding speed enforcement devices") or, the URL to this document on the ACPO website, (Microsoft Word format), you see that the limit is actually 6 years or even longer.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition
Tom Brake (Carshalton & Wallington, LDem)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 11 July 2005, Official Report, column 759W, on automatic number plate recognition, how long information collected by the police will be held as a record on police computer databases before deletion in (a) the pilot programme and (b) the proposed national scheme.
Paul Goggins (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office)
I have been asked to reply.
Pursuant to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington on 11 July 2005, Official Report, column 759W, my officials have been working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to ensure that information collected by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technologies and retained by the Police is cognisant of the relevant data protection legislation. The specific ACPO guidance states:"a period of two 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 two-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 days to two 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. In exceptional circumstances there may be operational grounds to justify retention of ANPR data beyond the two-year period. Should this occur a record of the grounds should be retained".
This document covers the European Convention for Human Rights. Data Protection, the Regulatory Investigative Powers Act 2000 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 relating to the Police use of ANPR (excluding speed enforcement devices) and is applicable to all police forces in England and Wales.