Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur has today welcomed Police Scotland’s move to delete over 500 million records from its number plate recognition database after pressure from the Liberal Democrats. Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed the figure last year.
In April 2016, Freedom of Information requests by the Scottish Liberal Democrats revealed that 852,507,524 number plate records captured by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras across the country were held in a Police Scotland database, with data available as far back as 2009. Data retention laws require that any such information is only kept for crimes, while all other data must be deleted from the database and destroyed.
Over a year on after pressure from the Scottish Liberal Democrats it has been revealed that 500 million records have been deleted and in June 2016 Police Scotland introduced a new retention policy so that old records are deleted automatically from the database.
Commenting Mr McArthur said:
"Last year we revealed that Police Scotland had nearly a billion records of number plates with the overwhelming majority belonging to entirely innocent motorists. It has been proven that 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.
“I am glad to see that after raising this issue, Police Scotland has finally taken action to delete over 500 million records and introduce a policy that will see old records be deleted automatically. There are essential questions that remain unanswered however; such as how Police Scotland was able to amass such an enormous surveillance network without a clear statutory basis or parliamentary debate.
“The SNP has a poor record when it comes to protecting people’s civil liberties, eroding and ending many rights and liberties. It has always been the Liberal Democrats who have stood strongly and clearly in restoring these liberties.”