The police are to expand a car surveillance operation that will allow them to record and store details of millions of daily journeys for up to five years.
A national network of roadside cameras will be able to âreadâ 50 million licence plates a day, enabling officers to reconstruct the journeys of motorists.
Police have been encouraged to âfully and strategically exploitâ the database, which is already recording the whereabouts of 10 million drivers a day, during investigations ranging from counter-terrorism to low-level crime.
But it has raised concerns from civil rights campaigners, who question whether the details should be kept for so long, and want clearer guidance on who might have access to the material.
The project relies on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras to pinpoint the precise time and location of all vehicles on the road. Senior officers had promised the data would be stored for two years. But responding to inquiries under the Freedom of Information Act, the Home Office has admitted the data is now being kept for five years.
Thousands of CCTV cameras across the country have been converted to read ANPR data, capturing peopleâs movements in cars on motorways, main roads, airports and town centres.
Local authorities have since adapted their own CCTV systems to capture licence plates on behalf of police, massively expanding the network of available cameras. Mobile cameras have been installed in patrol cars and unmarked vehicles parked by the side of roads and police helicopters have been equipped with infrared cameras that can read licence plates from 610 metres (2,000ft).
Talk about an invasion of privacy.
Jackie Violet - Female First