Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes has warned of the risks of a ‘Big Brother’ database impacting on the privacy of innocent motorists as she revealed Police Scotland has built up a store of over 850 million number plate records.
Freedom of Information requests by the Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed that 852,507,524 number plate records logged by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras across the country are held in a Police Scotland database, with data available as far back as 2009. The national force is now capturing details of over 200 million journeys each year.
There is no law that specifically enables ANPR in Scotland or which underpins its use. ANPR is not limited to police forces and other law enforcement agencies, with bodies such as Transport Scotland also operating systems.
Commenting on the figures, Ms McInnes said: “The figures acquired by Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed Police Scotland’s ANPR database is holding a gargantuan amount of data on innocent motorists. I find it disturbing the national force is now in possession of 850 million snapshots of people's journeys from the last seven years.
"ANPR cameras can be useful in locating stolen vehicles and identifying uninsured motorists but we’ve not been given any evidence to show just how effective they are at doing that.
"The overwhelming majority of these 850 million snapshots will belong to entirely innocent motorists and it is surely not proportionate or necessary to keep these for years on end.
"In light of the exposure of this hoard of information, SNP ministers must explain how Police Scotland was allowed to amass this huge surveillance network without a clear statutory basis or any parliamentary debate.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats are the only party going into these elections with a clear commitment to restore civil liberties eroded by the SNP. We would take steps to safeguard people from the misuse of their data and CCTV images, and scrap the SNP's plans for the intrusive Super ID Database granting 120 public bodies access to records on the NHS central register."