It appears that the Met Police might hold a local copy of the national ANPR feed going back to 2012. This appears to have been put in place as a CT measure during the Olympics, on the understanding (agreed with the ICO) that it would be deleted after the Olympics finished. The MPS did not delete their local copy of the national feed. ANPR data is held for a two year period but in Summer 2015 at least three years on it appeared that the MPS had not deleted the time-expired data from 2012-2013. The police forces are apparently arguing for a dramatic extension of the holding period for ANPR data out to 7-10 years.
I have inferred all the above from FOI releases made to me from the NPCC (which succeeded ACPO) in which the ICO, the ANPR national lead and the MPS discuss the issue.
It remains disturbing that this debate is not being had in public and demonstrates weak governance. The ANPR national lead this morning in response to the Guardian raising my earlier work tried to hide behind a spurious national security/secrecy argument. I have substantial experience of working on security matters and in my view this argument does not hold at this level of generality.
So to clear it up I have this morning written to Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner asking for his views. The text of the letter is pasted in below, the original with annexes is at this link: ANPR letter to BHH and attachments
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
ANPR data – the ‘Olympic feed’
As a member of the former Crime and Justice Sector Transparency Panel appointed by MOJ and HO, I am completing some work on ANPR governance. I support ANPR in principle as an important crime fighting tool. But its safe operation requires robust governance.
The Metropolitan Police might hold a substantial quantity of ANPR data, possibly a local copy of a national feed commencing around 2012 known as the ‘Olympic feed’. MPS agreed with the ICO that the data would be deleted after the Olympics but as of Spring this year had not done so. In MPS correspondence with the Information Commissioners Office, released by NPCC under FOI, concerns have been raised by MPS and ICO about the legality of processing and holding this data – letters attached. Some of this data, if it still exists appears now to be time-expired, over three years on from summer 2012.
I should be grateful if you could answer some questions:
Why was the Olympic feed created, when and broadly what is it?
What data is contained in the feed (approximately) – nature, geographic scope and size/approx. number of reads, currency?
Is the Olympic feed data pre November 2013 still held in any form?
If it has been deleted, when was that carried out?
Are you satisfied that the retention of this data has been fully within the law from 2012 onwards? Including should you receive a subject access request for 2012?
Is the data (both time expired data and current data) still being accessed/processed by MPS on a regular basis?
What governance arrangements are/have been in place for the Olympic feed?
What are your future plans for the Olympic feed data, if still held?
Given that the existence of ANPR itself is avowed and that there is much information about it in the public domain, it should be possible to answer the above generic questions without compromising operations or security. The scale of data holding here creates a strong public interest for transparency.
I am in correspondence about ANPR with Tony Porter the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Caroline Pidgeon, and my constituency MP Sir Kier Starmer to whom I am copying this and to MOPAC. I am publishing this letter on my website at https://talkaboutlocal.org.uk/blog/
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