Automated number plate recognition (No. 2)

Data Protection Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 22nd March 2018.

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“(1) Vehicle registration marks captured by automated number plate recognition systems are personal data.

(2) The Secretary of State shall issue a code of practice in connection with the operation by the police of automated number plate recognition systems.

(3) Any code of practice under subsection (1) shall conform to section 67 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.”—

This new clause requires the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice in connection with the operation by the police of automated number plate recognition systems, vehicle registration marks captured by which are to be considered personal data in line with the opinion of the Information Commissioner.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I will touch on this new clause only very briefly, because I hope the Minister will put my mind at rest with a simple answer. For some time, there has been concern that the way in which data collected by the police through automatic number plate recognition technology is not adequately ordered, organised or policed by a code of practice. A code of practice is probably required to put the police well and truly within the boundaries of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Bill.

With this new clause, we are basically asking the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice in connection with the operation by the police of ANPR systems under subsection (1), and we ask that it conform to section 67 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. I hope the Minister will just say that a code of practice is on the way so we can safely withdraw the new clause.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

I hope Committee members have had the chance to see my response to the questions of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley on Tuesday about ANPR, other aspects of surveillance and other types of law enforcement activity.

I assure the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill that ANPR data is personal data and is therefore caught by the provisions of the GDPR and the Bill. We recognise the need to ensure the use of ANPR is properly regulated. Indeed, ANPR systems are governed by not one but two existing codes of practice. The first is the code issued by the Information Commissioner, exercising her powers under section 51 of the Data Protection Act 1998. It is entitled “In the picture: A data protection code of practice for surveillance cameras and personal information”, and was published in June 2017. It is clear that it covers ANPR. It also refers to data protection impact assessments, which we debated last week. It clearly states that where the police and others use or intend to use an ANPR system, it is important that they

“undertake a privacy impact assessment to justify its use and show that its introduction is proportionate and necessary.”

The second code is brought under section 29 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which required the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice containing guidance about surveillance camera systems. The “Surveillance camera code of practice”, published in June 2013, already covers the use of ANPR systems by the police and others. It sets out 12 guiding principles for system operators. Privacy is very much a part of that. The Protection of Freedoms Act established the office of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, who has a number of statutory functions in relation to the code, including keeping its operation under review.

In addition, a published memorandum of understanding between the Surveillance Camera Commissioner and the Information Commissioner sets out how they will work together. We also have the general public law principles of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European convention on human rights. I hope that the two codes I have outlined, the Protection of Freedoms Act and the Human Rights Act reassure the right hon. Gentleman, and that he will withdraw his new clause.

Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy)

I am indeed mollified. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 21