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Terrorism: Automatic Number Plate Recognition

Volume 694: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2007

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Security, Counterterrorism, Crime and Policing (Tony McNulty) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would like to inform the House that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has signed a certificate to exempt Transport for London (TfL) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) from certain provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 to facilitate the bulk transfer of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) data from TfL to the MPS.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police believes that this is necessary due to the enduring, vehicle-borne terrorist threat to London. The MPS requires bulk ANPR data from TfL’s camera network in London specifically for terrorism intelligence purposes and to prevent and investigate such offences. The infrastructure will allow the real-time flow of data between TfL and the MPS.

As one of the conditions of this certificate, the MPS will provide an annual report to the Information Commissioner so that he can satisfy himself that the personal data processed under the certificate are required for the purposes of safeguarding national security and that any processing that is undertaken other than under an exemption set out in the certificate is carried out in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary will review the operation of the certificate in three months’ time when the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police provides her with a separate, interim report so that she can be personally satisfied that the certificate is being operated in accordance with the agreement and that the privacy of individuals is protected. In the coming months, proposals will be developed and discussed across the Government to ensure that bulk ANPR data sharing with the police is subject to a robust regulatory regime that ensures reasonable transparency and scrutiny.