Senate supports storing vehicle registration data

The registration data of vehicles that have recently passed an ANPR camera in certain locations on public roads may be stored for four weeks. Today, a large majority of the Senate passed an act to this effect. ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) is important for the purposes of investigating serious offences for which it does not emerge until further down the line that information about a vehicle plays a role. Such information could be crucial in cases of using explosives to target ATMs, abductions, human trafficking and terrorism. ANPR can also help in efforts to apprehend fugitives.

If a vehicle is used to commit an offence or as a getaway vehicle, then vehicle registration data could provide important clues, helping to identify suspects and track down their home addresses. Consequently, the police are being given the option of investigating what vehicles were driving at the scene of a crime as well as where the suspect’s vehicle came from or headed to. This ability to look back at recorded data is new. The police are not currently authorised to store the number plate data of all vehicles passing a camera and consult that data retrospectively.

Safeguards were incorporated into the bill to ensure data protection for road users. For example, number plate data may only be amassed on public roads and in locations relevant to investigatory activities. These include airports as well as ports, car parks alongside motorways and border crossings. Access to the vehicle registration data will be carefully controlled. Only specially authorised investigative officers will be given access at the behest of the public prosecutor. Furthermore, the information may only be consulted for the purposes of investigating serious offences and apprehending fugitives. The storage period is short: four weeks. In addition, a camera plan will be published each year specifying the exact location of the permanent cameras.

Ministry responsible